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Why 'Fake It Till You Make It' Is Bad Advice

By all means, project confidence in your abilities. But don't stretch the truth--it will only hurt you in the long run.
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The maxim "fake it until you make it" makes sense on some levels. Most people occasionally struggle with feeling overwhelmed or unconfident, so the idea of pushing through those negative emotions seems logical.

But sustaining a false front for the long term isn't in your best interest. Here are a few reasons why.

You'll repel people.

Show me someone who pretends to have it all together, and you'll find me walking the other direction. Though authenticity is hard to define, you probably know its opposite when you see it.

Magnetic and likable people are not afraid to share things about themselves that might even make them look bad. In doing so, they convey a sense of humility, honesty, and vulnerability that work to lower people's defenses.

Faking it is stressful.

If you've purchased something from Walgreens lately, the cashier may have used the branded salutation "be well," which the drugstore chain thinks makes customers happier.

But according to LinkedIn influencer Annie Murphy Paul, the people it doesn’t please are the employees who have to say it regardless of their feelings about the customers they're mandated to bless.

She says organizational experts define this kind of behavior as "surface acting," which is essentially faking cheerfulness--and in Walgreens's case, concern--all day long while interacting with customers.

"This kind of faking is hard work--sociologists call it 'emotional labor'--and research shows that it's often experienced as stressful," Paul writes. "It's psychologically and even physically draining; it can lead to lowered motivation and engagement with work and ultimately to job burnout."

Faking it can ruin you financially.

Lots of people live in big houses and drive nice cars they can't afford. But when you live beyond your means, you're robbing yourself of the peace that comes from having a firm hold of your finances.

How long could you pay your bills if your income was disrupted? Financial advisers say everyone should have at least a six-month emergency fund. If you don't, check out Inc. columnist Alexa von Tobel's succinct advice on exactly how to structure your emergency fund.

Is a 30-year mortgage the only way you're able to afford your home, even though one half as short could save you heaps of money in interest? Could you afford the higher payment of a shorter loan if you invested in a property that was more modest than the one you're living in now? Would downsizing give you the opportunity to sell a bunch of things--furniture and other things you've accumulated over time--and simplify your life?

Is a 60-month loan your only option for buying a car? Could you get from Point A to Point B in a vehicle worth a few thousand dollars instead of one that costs tens of thousands? If not, what are your reasons? Whom are you trying to impress? Keep in mind, once upon a time, people saved up for the things they needed to buy. Imagine how freeing it would be to not have to shell out hundreds of dollars a month to drive a vehicle.

Of course, if you're bootstrapping a business, long-term debt can free up the resources you need to keep your business alive, but if you're borrowing money or paying overdrafts to cover things you don't actually need, get some help. Not sure where to start? Check out the top 10 personal finance books of all time, which points to powerful approaches to accumulating personal wealth.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jun 10, 2014

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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