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What Is Imposter Syndrome + How Much Does It Cost Us?

Imposter syndrome is an extreme case of self-doubt that impacts your performance and success—which, in turn, can hinder your earning potential. You feel like a fraud that’s minutes away from being caught. You may be thinking your tasks are too big to deliver, or that your boss’s constructive criticism is reassuring you’re the imposter you think you are. If you’re finding yourself nodding your head up and down saying “yes,” you may be experiencing this well-known occurrence: imposter syndrome.

Recent studies show that 70 percent of millennials deal with the effects of imposter syndrome. Industry leaders, actors, and athletes are also subject to these challenges. Serena Williams and Tom Hanks, for example, have admitted to frequently experiencing imposter syndrome.

Reaching your career goals is one thing, but feeling like an expert in what you’ve achieved is another. Lack of sleep, overworking, and constantly thinking about work are a few silent symptoms of this syndrome. Jump to our infographic to discover your imposter tendencies, if any, or keep reading for a more detailed description.

The Five Types of Imposter Syndrome

There are a few different types of imposter syndrome out there. In a 2017 TED Talk, Dr. Valerie Young spoke up about this hidden roadblock that holds the best of us back. Dr. Young simply said that to be a boss, you have to act like a boss. Start by figuring out which type of imposter you may be and how to push past to reach your financial goals.

The Perfectionist

1. The Perfectionist

Who you are:

You feel like you can achieve anything and everything, no matter what’s in front of you. You feel unstoppable, but hardly ever reach your expectations since you set the bar a little too high. If you do reach the metrics you’re striving for, you’ll likely feel like an imposter who’s not totally worthy of their success.


Break down your goals into smaller SMART goals. While getting closer to each metric, go easy on yourself if things get in the way. When things do go well, make sure to celebrate your success over a coffee or dinner out.

The Super(wo)man

2. The Super(wo)man

Who you are:

You put in the time to show your worth. You may be working through your lunch breaks, be the first one in the office and the last one to leave to prove you’re amounting to your co-workers. Work is always on your mind, including your high expectations you plan to reach daily. You feel like an imposter if you don’t dedicate the majority of your time to your work.


Rather than working longer and harder, work smarter. Put your all into projects when you’re scheduled to work, and always set aside time for yourself. Focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses, when working toward your next raise.

The Natural Genius

3. The Natural Genius

Who you are:

You’re smart and good at what you do, but you may only do what’s easy and comfortable. You think you’re horrible at the projects that take you a long time to complete. You avoid taking on extra tasks because you aren’t naturally perfect at completing them. You think you’re an imposter when it takes longer than normal to complete new tasks, so you stay in your comfort zone.


Start by switching your mindset—the longer a project takes you, the better it turns out. Fill your plate with tasks you’ve never done to add to your skill set, even though you may be uncomfortable doing so. There’s nothing wrong with adding more skills to your resume!

The Soloist

4. The Soloist

Who you are:

You think asking for help shows your weakness. You never ask any questions, you just complete everything expected of you, regardless of how long it may take you to complete. You feel like an imposter if you have to ask your peers how to complete a task better and faster than you can do without help. When you’re at the store, you insist on finding everything yourself, even if you have to go down every aisle.


Asking for help shows your confidence in acknowledging where you can improve. Work on being comfortable with accepting your need for help from industry leaders.

The Expert

5. The Expert

Who you are:

You think you’re the expert of everything, even though you feel like an imposter when asked to strut your stuff. You don’t apply for jobs you’re qualified for and you don’t think you deserve the opportunities given to you. Upon accepting, you think you won’t be able to complete each new task because you’re an imposter.


Nobody can be a jack of all trades, and that’s okay. Know skill gaps are normal and focus on what you’re good at. Open the door for new opportunities to try new things, even if it’s just for fun!

How Imposter Syndrome Affects Your Finances

Sometimes, the feeling of defeat damages your positivity when striving for your goals. Failure can hurt your mood, productivity, and motivation to drive results. When positivity lacks, you lose touch with the “why” of what you’re doing. You may avoid taking on more projects or believe you don’t deserve a salary increase when you’re more than worthy. Here are some a few ways imposter syndrome can affect your finances:

How much is imposter syndrome costing you?

  • Burnout and stress from being spread too thin costs the average working American $988 a year.
  • Tension from unrealistic goals and schedules costs, on average, $2,244 per person each year.
  • When putting your health on the backburner, your performance follows. Lack of sleep in the US costs $2,569 per person each year.
  • Decreases in productivity and mood costs businesses $3,400 per employee each year.
  • Just by avoiding your salary talk and not negotiating your worth can cost you $7,528 each year.
  • On average, Americans spend over $18,000 annually on unnecessary purchases. This income could be saved or put towards a side hustle.

How to Overcome It

  • Be vulnerable: The more you talk about your imposter tendencies, the more you realize the normality of it. Turns out, even your manager may be dealing with the same issue!
  • Leave your feelings out of it: You may be overly optimistic about new projects after celebrating a big win for your team. Or after experiencing failure, you may avoid new career opportunities. Track and reference your results when making big decisions to ensure your choices are based on proven statistics, not feelings.
  • Focus on your strengths: You are worthy of your goals, and it’s likely that your classmates, peers, and even strangers on the street have pointed out your skills. Revisit all these compliments when you may be feeling discouraged.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it: The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is believing you’re confident and worthy. Don’t feed into an imposter mindset; instead, repeat a positive mantra when facing your fears.
  • You’re not the only one: Even though you feel like you’re the only one that doesn’t know anything, 70 percent of millennials in the workplace also deal with imposter syndrome. Step out of the box and talk to your peers to reassure your value.
  • Celebrate your achievements: It’s okay to brag about yourself sometimes! Whether that celebratory activity is putting a deposit on a big ticket item you’ve always wanted or scheduling a relaxing spa day, you should give yourself time to feel proud of your accomplishments.
  • Fail fast and fail often: Think of failure as a natural part of the process—learn what doesn’t work and focus more on what does. Pick yourself up and work harder to reach your career and financial goals.

Imposter syndrome robs even the highest achievers of their motivation each year. To overcome this burden and strive for your career and financial goals, you must act like a boss. Whether you want to buy your first house or earn a raise this year, kick your failure mindset to the curb.

The power of your mindset is key to staying confident with whatever life throws at you. See which imposter syndrome you may be struggling with and how it may be impacting your finances in the infographic below.

How much is imposter syndrome costing you?

Sources: Alvcoaching | Human Results | Medical News Today | Mindful | Health Harvard | James Clear | Wise Bread | TechRepublic | Melody Wilding | Forbes | USA Today | The Uncommon League | Fortune | Inc | CNBC

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