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Design Coaching Center: Take the Reins

If you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome as a professional interior designer, you may have hoped it would go away on its own…but unfortunately it doesn’t.

By Nona Patrick
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If you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome as a professional interior designer, you may have hoped it would go away on its own…but unfortunately it doesn’t: not with time, experience or even success.

The truth is many successful interior designers have suffered from impostor syndrome at one point or another in their careers. Studies have shown that seven in 10 adults have felt imposter syndrome, and interestingly, it’s often those who are the hardest workers, the highest achievers and the perfectionists.

Sound familiar?

Suffering from imposter syndrome can lead you to believe that other designers are more qualified than you (although they’re not), to undercharging for projects and to spending nights and weekends hunched over your laptop instead of enjoying life with the ones you love.

In the last article, we reviewed the true value of design and your worth as a designer; this time we’re going to review the actions to take to overcome feeling like a fraud or that you’re on the verge of being “found out” if you don’t work longer and harder than everyone else.


Be The Boss

The first step is to be a boss. This isn’t about being rude, unnecessarily stubborn or snobby to others. Sometimes designers are bossy because it’s their personality; other times it’s what a designer thinks they need to be to be taken seriously.

A true boss takes responsibility for what’s working and what’s not. They decide who to work with and who not to work with, and then they enjoy the fruits of their labor. In your role as a designer, you have a vision for transforming a space. As the boss, you then work through the details to make it happen. This same talent can be applied to your life and other aspects of your business, when you step up and be a leader.

You may not have or need employees, but you still need to be the boss and take responsibility for the outcomes in your business. To be honest, if you don’t quite know how to achieve the outcomes you want yet, it’s okay, because with a “boss mentality,” you’re going to find out how and then make those outcomes a reality!


Stop Auditioning

A quick way to banish imposter syndrome is to stop giving away your time, expertise and talent for free. If you haven’t transitioned into paid consultations yet — or are still doing consultations for a minimal fee — it’s often because you 1) don’t think you’re experienced enough or 2) don’t think anyone will pay you for your time.

Neither of these are true.

For affluent clients, paid consultations are the true sign of a professional. The best part is you get to decide when you start offering paid consultations, how long they last and what’s involved, and how much to charge. No one else gets to decide this for you.

In other good news, there are no more dues to pay before you start charging for consultation.

You went to school, you took those classes, you interned for other designers, you sold that furniture and you spent more time using AutoCAD than you’d care to admit. You’ve done the work to be labeled as a professional; now it’s time to acknowledge and honor it, and let others know it, too.


Be Authentic

Designers are often concerned about wanting to appear successful. It’s what holds some back in business, because they think they need the right purse, car, portfolio and so on.

As a designer, it’s understandable that you make things look great and want that talent represented, but more important than showing up to an appointment with a luxury handbag is what you really do as a designer — and who you are as a person.

The things that make you different — both as a designer and person — are exactly what you need to share with your clients. You should not be showing up as someone else’s idea of “successful.”

   If you love bold statement colors, designing nurseries for young families, only working with homeowners with kids who’ve already flown the nest, maximizing jewel-box homes or traveling internationally and curating collections...whatever creates your authenticity, let that
lion roar!

You — and your design style — are not meant for everyone, and that’s a good thing. You need to understand that you can’t expect others to appreciate what makes you unique or different if you don’t own your own authenticity and share it with the world.


Use Love Languages

Having a presence on Instagram, an ad in a glossy magazine or a regular blog post is what others may say you have to do when marketing your business, but the truth is: maybe so…but also maybe not.

Focusing your marketing on affordable, sustainable and relatable methods specific to you and your ideal clients is the real key to creating a pipeline of projects, not some generic, one-size-fits-all approach that everyone says you have to do.

Of course, marketing is absolutely essential for nurturing relationships, attracting clients and staying top-of-mind…but the trick is knowing which marketing tactics and avenues work best for you.

Here’s a hint: if you don’t want DIY clients, don’t create content attractive to DIY clients.

You’re not ideal for just any client, so stop using canned marketing content and newsletters that are written for everyone...because you’ll end up being attractive to no one.

Focusing your marketing around your ideal clients not only attracts those ideal clients, it helps stave away imposter syndrome because you know that the tactics you’re using are the right ones for getting the results you want, while also eliminating the FOMO (fear of missing out) of trying new approaches or platforms just because you heard about them somewhere.


Get the Right Mentor

You can earn confidence and success via years of trial-and-error and hard work…but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fastest way to overcome the inevitable obstacles of getting from where you are to where you want to be is with a mentor. They’ll help you separate facts from feelings when it comes to imposter syndrome, while also turning your roadblocks into speed bumps on the highway to your success.

There is no magic pill, event or magazine feature that breaks you through to the other side of imposter syndrome.

Thankfully it can be overcome with the right support, systems, guidance and accountability. Take these steps and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can live the life you want…and finally have the business you deserve!

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