3 min read

How imposter syndrome impacts your ability to build a new relationship with work

Usually imposter syndrome is about skills. But it can be more. Let’s explore.
How imposter syndrome impacts your ability to build a new relationship with work
Photo by Andrey Grinkevich / Unsplash

Sustain issue #99 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

I’m right at the end of my sprint period putting on X4 Summit which wraps up today. So are many other colleagues + Sustain readers. Congrats! 🎉

I’m also slogging through the end of overcast day after rainy winter day in PNW. But I’m feeling life since I just planted my onion starts in the garden this past weekend and the traditional day of planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s day is just ahead. I can see spring! 🌱

Boundary imposter syndrome

When I was just starting my marketing career as a social media coordinator, I wasted countless weekends building Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter posts of house porn for Zillow.

I was lowest on the totem pole. I had the least responsibility. I decided it was best to try and punch above my weight and use important weekend recovery time to get ahead. My company needed me. The Pinterest board had to be populated, after all!

I was months into my career but my imposter syndrome was real. Why wasn’t I able to perform the way someone three years or even seven years my senior was? The most sensible way in my mind was to outwork others and wait for magic to come. Jump on the grind and hustle.

Truth be told, I think some of my early career promotions were accelerated due to my hustle. It’s ambition, willingness to learn, and small wins that help early on. (But that doesn't have to mean working weekends.)

What I was doing then, by quickening my pace on the hamster wheel, would eventually lead to me crumbling with burnout in 2016.  

The only magic that happened was the inability to perform at my best for several years. It was a pretty bad tick. 0/10 would recommend.

I’m now a decade into my career. Here’s one piece of advice I’d give to my younger self. And honestly, I still have to remind myself of this on occasion.

Imposter syndrome is not just about your self-perceived skill shortcomings. It’s also about your self-perceived permission–or lack thereof–to set boundaries.

Here’s what I mean.

You might feel that you’re not senior enough. You’re not skilled enough. You’re not a big enough deal to set boundaries with work.

You are.

You might feel you’re the only one who can do your job.

You’re not.

You might feel that once you’re a little further in your career you’ll be able to set better boundaries with work. That once you put in your time it will become easier.

It won’t if you’re not proactive about it.  

Whether you’re months into your career or decades, you have the right to log off. You’re worthy of taking care of yourself. You’re allowed to have a different relationship with work.

You might even be more fulfilled in your life 😉

Do great work. Not too much. Socialize it. Log off.

Tech layoffs: Are they a necessary evil or a control tactic for bosses to regain power? (Fast Company)

Weekend work inches up in era of layoffs, out-of-office shifts (Bloomberg)

Obsessing over your well-being can lead to burnout. Here are 3 things to consider (Fast Company)

Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

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