Georgia | 04 May 2022
The tech industry is an ever-changing industry that requires you to constantly develop your skills and stay up to date with new trends and software.
Below we will have a look at the common causes of the emotions and actions software developers can take towards overcoming a negative mindset and when imposter syndrome starts to unfold.
Imposter syndrome is a collections of feelings that lead to you feeling inadequate that persist despite evidence of your success. A sense of self-doubt. A common occurrence from our research is that a lot of software developers suffer with imposter syndrome, due to the ever-changing industry and change in software’s. Being able to navigate through these emotions, will allow you to be more productive, confident and minimize the constant feeling of not being good enough, in both your personal and professional life.
Software development never stops evolving. It’s a large industry and is only continuing to get bigger. Not only are there new developers entering the industry, but the use of software is expanding, which means the demands of developers is continuing to climb. Due to this, it encourages regular creation of new languages, frameworks and tools. This means there will always be something new to learn and its only going to get more complex which can cause developers to feel overwhelmed and a sense of inadequacy.
The pressure to stay up to date on latest trends and technologies can lead you to focus on pursuing something you’re not confident in which in return increases the feeling of inadequacy and that feeling of ‘falling behind’. You’ll be more concerned about the smaller details and downplay your future achievements.
Lets explore ways in which you can combat these feelings and focus on your skills and knowledge and grow from there.
This is an important quality to attain as you will always have moments both personally and professionally where you will doubt yourself and compare yourself to what others are doing or what they know. The focus on your own weaknesses is understandable and natural. No one likes to be bad at what they do or be the one that doesn’t know much about new tech or trends so its natural to look at what you still need to learn and compare yourself to other developers who are ahead of you and feel somewhat inferior.
It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and will more than likely always linger around due to the industry always evolving. Its difficult to be an expert in all things software when the industry always changes. There’s always more to learn, new languages and processes to understand.
Yes, this can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to focus on what you can control which is your skills and your knowledge. In an industry like this, you have to accept that you will never feel completely knowledgeable and comfortable.
Going into any project, personally or professionally, with a fixed mindset can really limit how much you grow. Not only that, but it restricts how much you can develop your skills and how open you are to receiving feedback. People that adapt this fixed mindset, have a constant need to prove their ability and constantly show that they’re the ‘best’ at what they do.
Your intelligence and your attempts to develop your abilities, is directly linked to the amount of effort and challenge you are putting into a project. By simply changing your perspective on things, can have a massive impact on your overall outcome. Viewing your obstacles as opportunities and lessons to learn, helps you to develop a growth mindset which has a positive effect on everything else in your life. The process of learning is what makes you smarter. A great way to look at this is, if you’re feeling inadequate, this as a signal that you’re being challenged and it’s time to grow.
Getting into the habit of regularly reflecting on your accomplishments is a great way to remind yourself of how much you have actually achieved. Writing down everything you have done or achieved and/or making it a monthly habit to reflect on the things you have achieved for that month, helps to see how far you have come and allows you to set new goals.
Self-reflections also enables you to build confidence in yourself and your projects.
Receiving feedback from your managers or team members is a great way to measure how you’re tracking. Being able to manage imposter syndrome is being able get out of your head and receive real feedback and take on any advice from your managers.
Ideally, you should be meeting regularly with your manager to have one-on-one conversations about your performance and how you’re tracking. The things that should be addressed is how do they think you’re tracking, if there is anything specific they feel you need to work on, short-term and long-term goals and be constantly talking and adapting to achieve these set goals.
Everyone has a different way of learning and it’s a great idea to understand how you prefer to learn. Do you prefer to learn by reading? Visual videos? Online courses? Understanding this, can help instil the new information and allow your confidence to grow.
I know for a lot of software developers, they learn by doing. Only by seeing how it works in practice and physically doing the task, they then start to understand the processes. This makes sense due to the technicality of the job.
Once you understand your learning style, use this and experiment with alternatives to continue to improve your learning and develop your skills to decrease the amount of time you may feel any feelings of incompetence.
Everyone knows that goal setting is the only way to provide direction for yourself and create a sense of purpose. Trying to aimlessly complete a project without having proper structured goals in place, doesn’t give you much direction, control or purpose or any way to measure where you’re going.
Most of the time, imposter syndrome can be due to the fact that you don’t know the end goal or result or what direction you’re heading in. To combat this, goal setting and creating career paths, not only gives you directions and purpose, but allows you to make decisions on what skills you want to learn and focus on.
A great way of looking at this is, having a think about where is it you want to be? What company do you want to work for? What technologies do you want to be working with? What languages do you want to be using? Then from that information, you’ll be able to find out what you need to learn and the direction you need to be heading in.
It's important to have the drive to continuously learn and not be afraid to reach out to other developers online via LinkedIn and platforms like Meetups. Talking with other developers and skilled engineers in the industry can help you get tips and tricks to further develop your skills. Talk to them about what they’re currently doing, the tech they’re currently using and the skills they’re regularly using. Creating a plan for yourself and understanding the jobs you’re willing to take on and what you’re not helps you to get to where you want to be.
In reality, its hard to avoid imposter syndrome. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working in the industry for or how much experience you have had. We all get it. Once we can accept this, we can start to change our habits and change our mindset to better prepare us for the projects we have or any situation we may be in. Learning how to control this early on in our careers is one of the best ways to reduce its impact on our future.
Remembering to reflect on your situations and analysis to see if you’re setting yourself up for success.
If you’re not optimizing your time correctly, how can you redirect your time to be spent more wisely? A change in behaviour, mindset and setting regular goals and times to meet with yourself and your manager to reflect, will help in reducing any anxiety that imposter syndrome brings you and will allow you to properly set yourself up for success.
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