If you're not already a fan of My Gifted Girl on Facebook, I suggest you become one! This community looks at nurturing the gifts of girls and women of all ages. And, as a side benefit, is currently running a Q&A with me about 168 Hours, and gifted girls/women generally. Here's a taste of the interview:
Q:What advice do you have for gifted young women who are just beginning careers?
A: Many gifted young women flounder as they transition from college to career because work is not like school – and gifted girls are often good at school! In school, if you do a project according to the teacher’s specifications, you’ll get an A. If you finish all your assignments and pass your tests, you’ll move to the next grade. The real world isn’t like that. You can definitely move backwards. You can do everything exactly right, and still lose your job because your company is in the middle of a slump. There are no right answers in the back of the textbook. Sometimes, no one even knows which questions are important! You have to be comfortable with a lot more uncertainty. But once you embrace that uncertainty – and realize that most people don’t have any better clue what’s going on than you do – you can soar.
Q: What are your thoughts about how impostor syndrome can impact our time?
A: When you lack confidence in your abilities, it’s easy to waste time on things that you think may “prove” to the world (or yourself) that you deserve space on this planet. This leads to the SuperMom problem. If you’ve decided to take time out of the workforce to raise children, you may spend a lot of time showing people that you’re still a high achiever by volunteering for school projects only a martyr would take on or enrolling your kids in every activity available. If you’re working, you may try to over-deliver on the job on things that don’t matter (writing a dissertation when your boss wanted a memo) or constructing hand-made Valentines for everyone in your second grader’s class (to show that you’re still a good mom).
In general, you should spend most of your time on three things: nurturing your career (which includes keeping a hand in your profession if you’ve stepped back for a bit), nurturing your family, and nurturing yourself. If something doesn’t fit into these categories – for instance, a volunteer project you’re not passionate about – then it’s probably not a good use of your time. Somebody else can do it better. It will take your attention away from the things you do best. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome has us doing a lot of things that aren’t good uses of our time.