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You may suffer from 'impostor syndrome.' Lots of smart people with signs of high achievement do.

Sometimes it feels like you have to wait for some official entity's permission to do the work you feel called to do.

You may suffer from 'impostor syndrome.' Lots of smart people with signs of high achievement do.

Lots of people have projects they've been sitting on.

For some people, it's legitimately because some thing they need to move forward has stalled or because they really do have too much on their plate to get to it.

But for many people, it's something else entirely. It's this gripping fear that can set in, making you doubt whether you have any place at all trying to do the work you feel called to do.


Putting yourself out there can be a real internal struggle. Image by Andrew Smith/Flickr.

Maybe it's a book you keep meaning to write. Maybe it's a class about a very specific subject matter you know about that you would like to teach. Maybe it's an art project you don't think anyone would take seriously. That obstacle is called "impostor syndrome."

I'm going to break down what it is here and give you two easy-to-remember steps that you can use to keep working on your project in spite of suffering from this fear.

There's a tension between what comes naturally and what we value.

As Carl Richards, The New York Times' "Sketch Guy," explains:

"Two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, gave it a name in 1978: the impostor syndrome. They described it as a feeling of 'phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.' While these people 'are highly motivated to achieve,' they also 'live in fear of being "found out" or exposed as frauds.'"

Sometimes because a skill we have comes easily to us, we think it must not be that valuable. So when we try to pass it off as valuable, we think we must be fooling people.

Sketch by Carl Richards, used with permission.

Remember, what's easy to you may be really quite difficult for someone else, and that's why what you're good at has value. What's important is to try to see that fear for what it is and overcome it, even if just long enough to keep taking next steps with your work. And speaking of next steps:

There are pretty much two main steps to doing cool things.

I wish I could remember where I read this several years back because I'd love to give credit, but it's one of those things I can't seem to trace back (hit me up on Twitter if you know who coined these). But the tenets stuck with me at a time when I really needed to hear them. When you're feeling paralyzed by "impostor syndrome," it can be helpful to remember that there is a pretty simple process that nearly anyone who succeeds at anything has undertaken.

1. Create value.

Create something! It doesn't necessarily have to mean forging something out of raw materials in a crafty, artsy way. If you write, write. If you kick ass at connecting with people on social media, build a community. If you make amazing bagels, make them! If you sketch, sketch. If you have brilliant ideas for your neighborhood, start working on them. Making the crucial leap from thought to action is what's important.

2. Bring that value to the market.

Now here's the thing. "Market" implies you have to figure out how to monetize it. But that's not necessarily true. It can mean that, but it doesn't have to. Really, bringing the value you've created to "the market" just means getting it in front of people. Show it to people who are doing similar things, show it to people who might be able to benefit from it, show it to people who just might get joy out of it. You may figure out a way to monetize it, and hey, that's cool. Or you may just spark a new collaboration or open a door to some other next steps in doing whatever the thing is that you like doing.

Understanding impostor syndrome can be life-changing — hear Carl Richards discuss on his show, "Behavior Gap," the day he found out from his therapist that this feeling he was having had a name.

Richards learned how to look at his impostor syndrome as a friend and ultimately was able to manage it and make it work in his favor instead of stopping him from accomplishing his work.

With a little practice, I bet you and I could do the same.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.