Personal Development
Fake It Till You Make It: How to Use What You Don't Know ...

Fake It Till You Make It: How to Use What You Don't Know ...

Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

What is the Purpose of "Faking It 'Til You Make It"?

"Faking it 'til you make it" is an attitude and approach which encourages individuals to believe in themselves before they have achieved mastery in certain skills and knowledge. It is based on the idea of positive thinking and visualization, helping an individual to develop unrealistic expectations of their own abilities and setting aspirational goals for themselves.

How to Fake it 'Til You Make it - and What Strategies are Unhealthy

1. Acting as if: Acting as if you possess specific qualities and skills is an effective method to reach your goals. Positive affirmations and visualizations can help you to align your behavior to the person you want to be. Additionally, practical steps should be taken, such as saving money, taking classes, and improving credit scores, to help you work towards your ideal self without compromising your current wellbeing.

2. Nodding and Smiling: While it can be difficult to ask questions in a meeting or conversation when you are not sure of something, it is important to do so. Your peers will likely appreciate a chance to clarify any topics and ensure everyone is on the same page. It is more beneficial to ask questions and reveal your lack of knowledge than to pretend that you understand and keep conversations going, running the risk of never getting the help you need.


Faking it until you make it can be a beneficial method for the individual to reach their goals and become the person they want to be. Through different techniques, such as acting as if or taking actionable steps to achieving the ideal lifestyle, it is important to prioritize values over short-term gains. It is important to be honest about your lack of knowledge and ask questions instead of pretending to know what you do not, as this can lead you to find yourself in a difficult situation.

Faking it Until You Don't Make it: The Perils of Toxic Positivity

We may have been taught to 'put on a brave face' when we are struggling, but faking a smile can actually make us feel better. While it is true that our body language and actions can influence our mood, it is important to acknowledge when something is not right and be honest about it. Toxic positivity, or maintaining an emotional facade, not only impacts your relationships, but can also have a major effect on your mental health and self-esteem.

Impostor syndrome can make us feel like we are 'faking' our success and qualifications, and 'faking it till you make it' can often handicap us instead of helping us. There are situations in which it is acceptable to use 'faking it' as a tool, such as in the workplace, but there are also times when it is better to be honest and vulnerable.

When it comes to 'faking it 'til you make it', there are three main scenarios where it is better to avoid it:

  • When Competencies Are Involved - Faking a competency isn't healthy, and most individuals will interpret it as lying. If you lack the skills for a role, pretending will not help.
  • When Someone Is Offering Help - Seeking help is beneficial, and should not be avoided. Mentorship and coaching relationships are based on authenticity and vulnerability.
  • If You Don't Understand Something - It is better to ask questions than to pretend you understand. Don't be afraid to show your lack of knowledge.

Understand the Issue Before Offering Help

It may be tempting to jump in and offer assistance without pausing to comprehend the full scope of the problem. However, if the person you're helping does not understand the issue, your efforts may be futile. To avoid this, it is best to take a moment to ask a question or two to clarify the matter before you offer any help.

The Dangers of "Faking It"

The phrase 'fake it till you make it' is often used as a way of boosting self-confidence. It can be an effective tool when used correctly, but if you're already experiencing imposter syndrome, it can be damaging. Faking it until you make it could lead to perfectionism, anxiety, and other issues that can hinder progress. It is essential to be mindful of when faking it is beneficial and when its more detrimental. Openly discussing your feelings and expressing authenticity can help you to learn and grow beyond your comfort zone.

The Healthy Way to Fake It

Psychological safety is an essential part of establishing successful teams. A safe space allows individuals to freely admit their feelings and receive support and guidance as they venture outside of their comfort zone. But, how can you effectively 'fake it until you make it' without shortchanging yourself?

One approach is that of 'scaffolding' or learning to become comfortable with uncertainty while adopting a 'beginner's mindset'. This means recognizing that all unfamiliar tasks may feel awkward at first but that you're also working to embody the behaviors for the person that you would like to become. Learning is a process that requires patience, dedication, and lots of practice.

You're Not "Faking It," You're "Winging It"

Lev Vygotsky's idea of scaffolding involves taking on new tasks with the help of a more experienced mentor. This involves pushing outside of your comfort zone but is not the same as without giving yourself credit for what you know. Accepting that you don't know something can be a form of confidence. With courage, you'll be able to try new things and grow.

You're Not "Faking It," You're Asking for Assistance

It is important to remember that you don't have to do everything on your own, and you don't have to do it perfectly. Be cognizant of your limitations, seek help as needed, and delegate tasks that may be too much for you. Requesting support is a sign of confidence and can help to increase your sense of competence.

Final Thoughts

Although it can be intimidating to share your insecurities, being honest is empowering and can help others to respect you more. Instead of faking it, take on each challenge with open-mindedness and self-awareness. If you are needing help, consider consulting a professional coach to work on building your mental fitness and self-confidence.

What is Cognitive Dissonance and How Do You Reduce It?

Cognitive dissonance is an internal conflict that arises when our behaviors or beliefs don't align with our values. Both stress and discomfort can result from this phenomenon. To reduce cognitive dissonance, you need to identify its source and then find ways to minimize it. This can involve changing your behaviors, beliefs, or environment. It can be a difficult process, so make sure to be kind to yourself as you work through it.

Join Shiken For FREE

AI-powered learning tools. Create, relax, learn.

Gumbo Study Buddy

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime