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Defeat Impostor Syndrome with a Win Jar

Image of 6 win jars and a definition of impostor syndrome in the center

We all need boosts of self-confidence now and again, don’t we?

Search the web, and you’ll find that Impostor Syndrome is a popular topic. Essentially, it means you don’t feel you’ve earned the successes you’ve had. You expect that any minute the world will realize you’re not as good as it thinks you are. That you’re a fake. An impostor.

According to at least one researcher, men and women are equally at risk for Impostor Syndrome.

It was no surprise, then, to learn that members of The Quad, my mastermind group—myself included—suffer a bit from Impostor Syndrome.

During one of our daily chats, we came up with an idea to help us combat Impostor Syndrome. It’s not unique to us (I received an email newsletter just the other day that outlined a similar concept), but we put our own spin on it.

We call it the Win Jar.

It’s a simple idea: Write down any successes or compliments—any wins—you experience on a slip of paper. Put the slip of paper into a jar designated to hold them. Anytime you’re feeling like an impostor or just feeling low, pull out the slips of paper and read them.

What Should My Jar Look Like?

Your jar can look like anything you want. Make it inspirational or geeky or whimsical. Let it reflect your personality. Looking at your jar should give you joy. I received a TARDIS-shaped mug with lid for Christmas from my 12-year-old son. It was too awkward to drink out of, but it makes an excellent Win Jar.

Get creative with the slips of paper, too. Use that fancy stationery you’ve been saving. What better way to use it than on your self-confidence? Try colored slips of paper in a clear jar for a bright look. Again, let the paper reflect your personality. Let it give you joy.

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What Should I Put in My Jar?

Write down the little wins and the big ones. At first, it might be difficult to recognize wins. But once you see one, you’ll start to recognize them when they happen.

For example, when your boss thanks you for your efforts, write it down and put it in the jar. When a client praises your editing, write it down and put it in the jar. That sentence you finally wrangled into clarity and grammatical beauty? Write down the original and edited versions and put them in the jar.

You got to the gym three days a week for a month? In the jar. Made progress on your weight-loss goal? You guessed it: in the jar.

The point of this exercise is to build and maintain a healthy self-confidence based on reality. Defeat Impostor Syndrome and see how far you go!

Celebrating Wins Online

There’s no need to keep your wins a secret, either. Sharing them online can let others cheer you, which can further boost your self-confidence. Search on the hashtag #winjar on your favorite social media platform, and you’ll see edibuddies (“editor colleagues and friends”) and others posting their wins, big and small.

Ready to make your own Win Jar? Let’s see it! Post a picture of it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #winjar and I’ll cheer you on!

A version of this article originally published on February 5, 2016, on Copyediting.com

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