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Are You Faking?

It’s that time of year again! That time when everyone seems to be making new year's resolutions. Some folks are excited about them and some are just ignoring the whole darn thing.

For many, the turning of the New Year is the perfect opportunity to reset intentions, define goals and feel a fresh enthusiasm for life and possibilities.

Certainly, it’s not necessary to wait for the New Year to do any of those things but, you might want to know that setting goals, of the New Year’s Resolution type or any other kind, is arguably the most important skill you can learn to improve your self-confidence.

The process of setting goals, if done well, requires tapping into your vision. It draws out of you those future achievements that you know will make you proud. And, setting the right type of goals (for you) focuses your acquisition of knowledge and helps you organize – your time, your inner and outer resources - so you can live more of the life you want.

(Want a new approach to goals that doesn’t feel forced? Drop me a line or give me a call.)

These are the very same reasons many people avoid setting goals at any time of the year. Setting goals can, and often does, dredge up obstacles.

It’s pretty typical to avoid setting goals because it brings up worries that we’ll let ourselves down. It brings up beliefs that we can’t reach for what we want because we don’t have enough self-confidence (now there’s a negative loop, for you). Or it reminds us of those times when we tried and failed, and so on.

One of my clients recently told me that her New Years's Resolution is to “Fake it 'til I make it.” Then she wondered aloud if that was a good idea.

This is a common piece of advice… Is it a myth or does it work?

Well, it depends.

It depends on what you mean by “fake it” and on what you’re faking. It depends on your level of experience with the area of said faking. It depends on your attitude while you are faking it, which has something to do with whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. And it depends on how comfortable you are trying something new.

If what you mean by faking it is hopping into the driver's seat of a Fiat Spider when your only experience to date has been playing Mario Kart, thenyes, you are an imposter. But most people aren’t that lacking in integrity or that reckless.

Mostly, people forget that the next level up from where you’ve been before automatically means there will be stuff you don’t know or know how to do. In fact there are many jobs where you must fake it til you make it. Teaching, for instance. No teacher can really say he’s a teacher or really knows how to teach until he’s been the teacher. This can only happen by being hired as one. And, so that first few days of school (and longer) this teacher must assure parents and students that he KNOWS what he’s doing. You could say he’s faking it. I’ll bet you can name at least five more jobs that are like this.

Now, to your attitude.

This is where the word “til” is so important in that sentence. If you’re faking say, being calm when you’re not, or assuring an interviewer that you’ll be able to handle working full time when you’ve been an at- home mom for 15 years, then you must do the back up work. This means, learning what you need to learn to be calm for real. This means setting up support systems for you and your family before and during your transition into the workforce. It means committing to getting the skills however you can, while you are faking it, so you can fake it less and less and less…

If you know where you are in the process and what “making it” specifically means to you, you aren't lying to everyone, you're learning. AND, when you hit those marks, being able to let go of thinking you are faking, or worse A FAKE, is crucial…this can be a big challenge.

If you’re an introvert, you’re going to find faking it til you make it a bit more difficult.

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain cites study after study that describe the nature of introversion and the positive traits introverts bring to the world. One such trait is cautiousness and a desire to observe and learn before jumping in – anything else would be inauthentic.

Introverts, who typically value thoroughness, are more likely to interpret “faking it” as a profound lack of authenticity and back away from it altogether. While straying too far one’s style can be counter productive, introverts miss the opportunity to find new ways to stretch their capacities and manage the unknown if unwilling to strike out for skills that aren’t there yet.

Posturing can change your attitude.

Calling someone a poseur or accusing them of “posturing” isn’t often complimentary, yet when we smile without first feeling happy our bodies register the chemicals associated with happiness –our mood changes to happier. TED presenter Amy Cuddy's research says that when we take specific postures of confidence or power we actually feel more confident and make decsions differently.

Recently, A New York Times article explored cell phone hunch and how it negatively affects our state of mind and body. The bottom line is that dynamic between facial expression/ body posture and emotional state is more like an interactive loop than a one way street. When trying on new ways of standing, being, thinging and acting, your body/mind makes it real.

So, with the right attitude, personally appropriate goals and a willingness to stretch into the unknown, “faking it” might not actually be faking it, after all.

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