Has the ghost of imposter syndrome plagued you at any particular time in your life? Maybe you have been lucky enough and are yet to experience it. According to research, about 70% of adults may experience imposter syndrome at one point in their life.
On more than one occasion, I have had this gut-wrenching feeling that I am probably failing or will fail at my work. Whenever I’ve had to take on a finance task or even apply for a job, I can’t stop this nagging voice that I am not good enough. Are my qualifications still valid? But I’ve been unemployed for a while now; what if I cannot do it? I don’t think I can match the competition for this job. And the list of self-doubt will grow longer with every waking second. Sometimes, it makes me anxious, and I must take a break from everything for a few hours to reboot. I spend more time than I should on tasks because I chase perfection. And on a few occasions, I will try to compare myself to others.
It’s a feeling I’ve had before when an unexpected promotion landed on my lap, and I had to take on a whole department. But that experience doesn’t stop me from feeling like a fraud once in a while, especially now that I’ve been out of formal employment for an extended period.
That’s what imposter syndrome does. It makes you feel less competent and fraudulent in your trade even when others tell you otherwise. Or even when you know, deep inside, that you are better than what your doubting self believes.
When I snap out of my imposter syndrome spell, I can’t help but look back and wonder why I doubted myself in the first place. Yet, I know that I can handle the job. I have the skills, experience and training to handle most or everything on the JD. So, why did I let the opportunity slip out of my fingers?
As you can see, imposter syndrome can significantly impact one’s career and dreams. But there is more in one’s life that imposter syndrome impacts, not just your career life. And that’s what I want to talk about today—imposter syndrome and your money.
How Imposter Syndrome Affects Your Finances
So, let’s talk about how imposter syndrome affects your finances. There are several aspects in which imposter syndrome can hurt your wallet and overall financial goals and dreams.
1. Passing On Better Job Opportunities
When in self-doubt, there is a high likelihood you’ll or have foregone better job opportunities. It could be a promotion at your current employment or a prospect in another company. Maybe, like me, you look at the JD and conclude there is someone better suited for the job. Or that you can not be as nearly qualified for the position. Your qualifications, years of experience and skills tell otherwise. But you keep doubting yourself and fear you might get the job and be exposed as a fraud.
But imagine what could happen if you let go of the fear and embraced the challenge. You could get that promotion or a job offer from a new employer. On most occasions, that move comes with an income boost that affords you the lifestyle you desire. Or the financial muscle to cater to more of your goals and dreams.
Related post: How to Make More Money from Employment Opportunities
2. Selling Yourself Short
Besides standing in the way of chasing that dream position, imposter syndrome can also make you sell yourself short when negotiating for more income.
A few years ago, a friend got an interview and wanted to know how much I thought they should ask for. I quoted a figure that was about 200% of what they were currently earning. My reasoning; the JD was more extensive, their current employer was underpaying them, and they had more years of experience and skills. So I told them to consider what they thought they were worth and add a tax. It was a tall order because they still doubted their skills despite what I and several others told them.
Of course, there was the fear that the prospective employer would run for the hills when they saw their quoted salary. But as someone once told me, don’t undersell your skills. That’s something I was eager to echo back to someone else. The right employer will always fight for you because they know your worth. And they know that you know it, too. My friend got the job, and the employer did not even negotiate the package. Imagine if they had quoted a lower pay. The prospective employer would have accepted it, and they would have lost on all that increment.
What’s the lesson of this little story? Don’t let imposter syndrome cheat you of that salary bump you clearly deserve. And need. Just imagine if you could get or could have gotten the extra $100 or $500 in salary boost if only you had asked for it. How much interest could that earn you if you invested it? Or how sooner would you repay your debts with that boost?
There was a time a few female colleagues and I approached our line manager for a salary increment. This was after a failed attempt to get some men in our department to join us in this justified quest. We believed in the strength of numbers, especially if we acted as a group, but they declined. We did not let that deter us, and we decided to request the increment anyway. We believed that our work, skills and education afforded us such an increment. While we did not get big a bump as we expected, we still got a salary bump. If we had let the doubt get into our heads, we’d never have gotten the salary bump like our male colleagues.
Related read: Debunking Myths About Side Hustles
3. Starting a Business or Sidehustle
One of the ways to have an extra source of income is to start a business or have a side hustle. While it’s not an avenue that everyone can manage or take up, there are individuals who can do it.
If you are struggling with imposter syndrome, your dream to have a side hustle or build a business empire will remain as just that, a dream. That self-doubt will keep you from taking that first step or more risks that could grow your business or side hustle.
Investing Your Money and Growing Wealth
Aside from the financial impact of jobs and businesses, imposter syndrome can also affect your ability to invest what you have. The self-doubt in your ability to make such financial decisions could be cropping from past investment failures, the fear of the industry jargon or the fear of making wrong investment decisions.
How is this standing in the way of your finances? Because investing is the only way you can grow wealth. If you let your money sit in your bank account, then it’s not working for you. That money will not earn enough interest, if any. So, you are missing out on compounding interest and dividends or interest payments from investments. Plus, you are also losing on inflation, which erodes your purchasing power with each passing day.
Related read: Debunking Investment Myths That Are Holding You Back
What’s The Way Forward?
I have learned and accepted that imposter syndrome is quite common. It is prevalent in people with accolades and numerous achievements under their belt. It’s even common among CEOs and other C-suite executives, according to this post in Business Havard Review.
The secret is not to let it consume you and rob you of opportunities that could greatly impact your life. So, whenever I feel it is creeping in, I like to remind myself that I am as qualified and competent. It also helps to talk to people who know you personally or professionally. It has helped boost my morale on several occasions. And if you are scared about making that investment decision, talk to a financial advisor and invest in some financial lessons.