Sometimes we feel like a million dollars.
We’re looking good – hair’s good, clothes are right. We’re brimming with ideas and confidence. We feel sharp, in control and on top of our subject. As a result, we walk a bit taller, stride purposefully and feel like a winner.
Funnily enough, I’ve analysed the outcome on such days. It turns out that when I feel like this, I invariably am a winner. The meeting, interview or business pitch goes well, everyone is positive. Things just click into place.
However, during lockdown it’s very difficult to turn on this ‘best version’ of yourself. The positive prompts – the clothes, fresh air, affirmation from others – aren’t there. The mix of external stimuli that get your brain fizzing with possibilities are also missing. In their place, thanks to COVID, creep doubts about life, the future and even your own abilities. Imposter syndrome may even kick in.
So, how do you combat this? Well, here are five tips and techniques to try.
Manage Your Mindset
If you don’t already, journal, every day. I do this in the morning before work. In my journal I write lists under four headings. Firstly, the things I’m grateful for – the little and the big things, the weather, health, that great film I saw last night, a positive conversation, a new business win etc. Writing this list helps me stay positive even in the grimmest of times.
Next up is the attractions; the things I’m trying to get in my life. These can be personal, such as health for those I love. But for me, they are mostly work-related, such as the overarching targets I’m shooting for this year.
The next topic is goals. I only write three or four things here as these are the goals for the day. The handful of important things which I want to have achieved by the end of play.
Last come my affirmations. The positive thoughts about myself and what I’m doing, that I perhaps need to instil into my subconscious. Writing these feels very alien; you’ll feel an idiot. Still, do it!
Writing a journal in this way is brilliant because it equips you each day with a positive mindset (gratefuls), keeps front of mind the trajectory you want to be on and the things you’re on the lookout for (attractions), gives your day focus (goals) and, thanks to the affirmations, gives you the chance to give yourself an inner ‘pep talk.’ Each day this recipe is tailored to the situation you are in at that particular moment.
Stay Stimulated & Creative
In normal times, when we’re hosting creative brainstorms in the office, our team commutes using a different route. That simple shaking up of the routine makes a creative difference.
In lockdown this kind of creative jolting suffers and stagnation sets in. So, take positive steps against this. Proactively change your habits. Read a different news source for a week, listen to three new work-related podcasts or learn something new. Read a creative thinker’s blog. Anything to change the stimulus coming into your brain.
You will be surprised by the results.
When engineering these ‘mind jolts’ have purpose. Set yourself a target of identifying two things learned from these new sources which could be applied/relevant to work. Then share these inputs with colleagues or your boss. You will show you’re thinking, you’re proactive and your antenna is ‘up’.
Dress Up – Stand Up
I know with home working it’s tempting to work in your pjs, after all on Zoom meetings, your colleagues won’t know. But it’s not good for your self-image, and everyone’s ‘take’ on us is prompted by how we feel about ourselves.
I’m not saying wear a suit 24/7, but dress like you mean business, you ‘deserve to be in the room, you merit that pay rise’. If you have a really important meeting, dress as if you are going to be there in person, psychologically you will be in a better place.
If you are handling an important call – stand up for it. You will sound more energised and positive.
Work on your Personal Brand
Beyond your appearance also think about your personal brand. What do you want your employers, would-be employers, customers, work colleagues, business partners and contacts to think of you? What’s the impression they’re to take away? What’s your area of expertise? Are you conveying that on social channels? Are you reading up on that topic or sector to become a go to person in that area? It’s never too young to be thinking in this way.
Banish the Imposter
With the confidence of journaling, some fresh stimuli and with a professional personal brand you now should have no room for imposter syndrome. But to truly banish it I want you to take one more positive step. If work has a challenge or a project, volunteer for it. Stick your hand up. Far too many people (women in particular) wait until they’re over-qualified before putting themselves forward for challenging roles. This not only cuts them off from learning opportunities, but also gives others who are no more qualified a chance to shine.
Enough! Say yes to that project and worry about the details later.
About the author
Louise Findlay-Wilson is the founder and Managing Director of the communications agency, Energy PR. Married, with four children, Louise set up her first agency at the age of 26, grew it and sold it before establishing Energy in 1995.
If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.