Moving through Imposter Syndrome and Working from a Place of Possibility

By May 31, 2018 June 4th, 2018 I Don't Know What I Want To Do

This is a story of growth, possibility, and faith.

I met Morgan Fisher last year, introduced to me by another amazing Work Bigger graduate. 

Through our many conversations, I learned that Morgan started her career like many of us – going through the motions and following a specific path. After getting her masters in accounting and working at a Big 4 accounting firm, Morgan burned out. 

It was this seemingly negative event that inspired her to transform her life. And isn’t that usually how these things go? Our biggest pain points become our greatest blessings.

In this interview, Morgan and I talk about:

  1. The quarter life crisis. What does it feels like to hit a wall with your career and how do you overcome it?
  2. The importance of faith, community and making a commitment to personal development to get you through the hard times. Morgan is launching her side hustle and bringing her mission to life. 
  3. Moving through lack of confidence and imposter syndrome.

We also spoke with Morgan on Facebook live. To access the video interview, scroll all the way to the bottom of the interview. 

Morgan Fisher Talks About Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?

I grew up in Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. My parents were in the military but retired to the DC area when I was 8 years old.

Growing up, my mom encouraged me to try pretty much everything – basketball, piano, biking, running, swim team, lacrosse, student government, morning-news crew at school, soccer, etc.

As I got older, soccer and running ended up being my two sports of choice. Sports and physical activity now play a leading role in my mission.

After graduating high school, I went to college in San Antonio, Texas.  I got my bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing and then went on to get my masters in accounting.

Looking back, the following was my mindset: “Go to college, have fun, get a degree that will keep me employed with a paycheck even if the job market sucks, get a job before graduation, and go work for a big and reputable company.”

And that was it. I didn’t think much beyond that since my whole life had been leading up to getting a job in the real world.

Fast-forward to first job: Audit Associate, Big 4 Accounting Firm.

My first two-ish years out of college were spent at a Big 4 Accounting Firm in Houston, Texas.

One of the many amazing things about Big 4 Accounting, especially in the audit sector, is that almost everyone you work with is in their twenties or early thirties. At times, it felt like college 2.0. The good times were great – happy hours, trips, trainings in different states, free food all the time, summer work (which tended to be more relaxed), learning how to handle yourself in a professional work space, and most of the time, your best friends were working right beside you.

I found that the not-so-good times were emotionally draining and very challenging. In my experience of audit, there was no work-life balance. I loved the people that I worked with and loved spending time with them, but I didn’t really have a life outside of work.

When I was not working, I was either trying to forget about the stresses of work by partying or I was sleeping or eating or trying to squeeze a workout in.

If you were to put my mental state on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being completely sane/happy/stable and 10 being “out of my damn mind,” I was probably at about an 8.

Usually when I cried about work, it was after work (and, unfortunately, during work in the more stressful times), but the day I called my mom crying before even getting to work was the day I knew something needed to change.

How crazy is it that crying due to work became a norm in my life? Some people thrive and get a lot of fulfillment working in audit, but it wasn’t for me. However, I learned a lot from that experience. In fact, starting my career at a Big 4 accounting firm in audit was one of the best things I could have done.  

Tell us more – how did this this negative turned to a positive for you?

A little over a year ago, I was drawn to Dallas, Texas.

I call it God intervening, but you can call it a good gut feeling or a hunch.

I moved into a wonderful apartment with my good friend from college and started a new job at a private equity firm on the fund services team. Since moving to Dallas, I’ve developed a serious love with yoga.

I recently completed a 40 days of yoga program. I tapped into nutrition and learned more about how nutrition affects the body and mind. I also built a more consistent meditation practice, ran my first marathon, signed up for my second marathon, found my church home, and developed friendships with people who I consider to be serious blessings in my life.

Most recently, I started a company selling yoga-inspired apparel with the company’s mission centering around (1) spreading the good word of yoga and spirituality, and (2) giving to charitable organizations.

What is your mission, the work you want to do?

My mission is to:

(1) encourage conversations about yoga, creating an active lifestyle, meditation, and the benefits of clean eating without making people feel like what they’re doing is wrong,

(2) empower others to find fulfillment in their lives and what they do through mindfulness, spirituality, and self-inquiry, and

(3) give abundantly to charitable organizations (the organization I am most interested in right now is International Justice Mission (IJM).

Before learning about IJM, I had no idea that slavery is still endured by 40 million people around the world. This incredible organization is sending people in to some of the most dangerous parts of the world and liberating fellow humans and subsequently helping them acclimate to life, post-slavery.

What challenges have you faced as you’ve been working to identify your mission?

My biggest challenge has always been with my confidence.

In fact, writing the answers to these questions is making me feel some serious impostor-syndrome tingles!

I generally have the expectation for myself that I need to perform well and that people need to like me (i.e. chasing perfection and craving others’ approval).

It’s sometimes exhausting – I can really work myself up into a tizzy listening to the loud and mean voices that parade around this brain of mine saying things like “Who are you to want to live this big abundant and fulfilled life?” or “That person thinks you’re insane.”

What has worked for me is personifying the voice in my head that is saying these negative thoughts, expressing gratitude toward this personified voice that’s trying to protect me from potentially negative outcomes, and setting this voice aside with the calm feeling saying, “Thanks, Mean Morgan, but I don’t need you right now.” (Listen to Tim Ferriss’s interview with Jack Kornfield for more on this).

I’ve also recently started separating past-Morgan from who I am now (see Kickass by Mel Robbins on Audible). Also, a gratitude journal has been my best friend. When you’re feeling love and gratitude, it’s way harder to feel fear.

What does living from a place of possibility mean to you?

To me, living from a place of possibility means looking at the situations we experience and the decisions we make every day through the lens of love and abundance rather than fear and lack.

I’ll ask myself the following questions:

  1. What are the facts of the here-and-now?
  2. What if this were easy?
  3. What is impossible about this?
  4. How can I approach this out of love rather than fear?

How do you work from a place of possibility today, and how has this approach changed your life?

I started a side-hustle earlier this year and really struggled with making time to work on it.

The story of fear I told myself was, “I work from 8:30 in the morning until 7:00 in the evening and then I go to yoga and then I go home and make dinner and eat dinner and relax and by the time I am ready to get to work on my side-hustle, it’s already 10:30 which is bedtime. I’m never going to have enough time to work on my side-hustle to make it as awesome as I want to. I won’t be able to do this and have a ‘9-5’ job.”

This story stressed me out and I did a really fantastic job of disempowering myself. Every time I looked at my calendar, I saw time being eaten up by all of my obligations and didn’t see any time left for my pursuit of a business outside of work.

After a much-needed conversation with a wonderful individual who helped me put this into the perspective of possibility, I was able to change my story.

My new story is, “I’m grateful to have a job where I get to work with people I like and enjoy spending time with. I’m grateful to have a job that allows me to live free of financial-worry. I am grateful to have a job that is relatively flexible and gives me quite a few days of paid vacation each year, which I can use however I want. I’m grateful that my boss is supportive and cares about me. I know that I am valued at my current job and my boss and coworkers will support my pursuit of whatever fulfills me, as I would support and encourage each of them.”

With this story, I told my boss and coworkers about my side-hustle and I received nothing but support and encouragement.

Before changing my perspective to one of possibility, I hadn’t even fathomed taking a day off to pursue my side-hustle.

After this, I asked for and took a day off work to focus solely on my side-business and taught myself that it is possible to perform well at work AND create time to pursue my passions.

What advice do you have for 20 to 30-somethings who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?

One of the most critical actions you can do [starting today!] is define your mission (shout out to Work Bigger for showing me this).

Once you define the foundation of your “why” and are able to make decisions through the perspective of if something pushes you toward your mission or pulls you away from your mission, you might find that you begin to feel head-space and clarity.

For example, when I think about my current job position as an accountant at a private equity firm, it doesn’t scream “yoga, physical activity, eating healthy, mindfulness, joy and happiness!”

However, when I look at my job through the lens of my mission and through a lens of possibility, I am able to say, “Okay, I’m not necessarily finding fulfillment in the act of making journal entries or in creating financial statements, but I am able to practice teamwork, communication, taking and giving direction, organization, perseverance, and focus, which will help me further my true mission.” A flip of perspective is sometimes the best saving grace.

If you decide you need a change after analyzing the nature of your challenges at work (both external and internal) to determine if they’re helping you grow or are keeping you stagnant, do so from a place of possibility.

Can you do something on the side of your current job that will bring you fulfillment?

Can you discuss your feelings of being stuck with anyone at your company who might be able to help?

Can you create a network in your workplace where you are able to get together with like-minded people to create fulfilment?

Before jumping to a new job, it’s critically important to evaluate if you’re running from a challenge in which you would be better served if you stayed. I’ve often found that I experience the most growth through uncomfortable situations.

To sum it up, define your mission and then make decisions in your life through the lens of your mission – from a place of love and possibility rather than from fear.

Now, we’d love to hear from you! What’s the greatest insight that you’ve taken from this interview?

Also, check out the Facebook Live call we hosted with Morgan below. We dig even deeper on some of these questions.

 

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Leah Noumoff says:

    WOW! This + the live interview today REALLY really hit home for me.

    I am constantly battling between being in the mindset discussed here (one of love and possibility), and being in the completely opposite mindset, on what feels like some kind of schedule/cycle. One day, I’ll be crying in the bathroom at work, barely able to hold it together because I want to do something different so badly – and then other days, I can be grateful for this experience, work with it, and see the value that’s actually being provided by the challenge.

    SO GOOD. Printing this one to read again when I need the reminder!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thank you for your comment Leah! You are so not alone in that back and forth. I’m so glad this interview resonated with you. <3

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