Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
For women especially, perfectionism is a goal that limits, rather than expands opportunity; perhaps it’s time to lean into self-trust instead
I meet hundreds of women, through my work as an author and speaker, who are ready for their next level of impact, yet they sit on the edge, contemplating if they are “ready enough.” Like me, these women evaluate every potential outcome and frequently focus on the not-so-positive scenarios. With this lens, often filled with negative self-talk, they override their inner knowing and convince themselves that now is not the time. So, they wait.
Looking back, I now see that some of my self-imposed delays were dripping with doubt and unrealistic expectations. I often pressured myself to make others happy or avoided my fears of failure or embarrassment. Even on projects where I had little or no experience, I put enormous pressure on myself to create fantastic results.
These ridiculous, self-imposed expectations kept me working nights and weekends, striving to be over- prepared for the next opportunity.
Through my research for my second book, I learned that I was not alone. In the workplace, women often wait to be 100 percent prepared to apply for jobs, as opposed to men, who feel comfortable at around 60 percent prepared, according to Tara Sophia Mohr, author of Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified.
Let’s ask ourselves, how often do we require ourselves to be 100 percent ready or more for new things? How have you held yourself back during the past two years because you were not 100 percent prepared? What fears have you identified that you now realize have a STRONG hold on you and your aspirations? What steps could you take this month to push through your self-doubts?
After years of personal development, I now see perfectionism as more about wanting to fit in and working to avoid criticism or negative comments from peers, leaders, and co-workers. I will let you know right now that it’s not easy to break away from perfectionism, even though I recognized its grip on my life years ago and have worked to overcome it through self-development, spiritual alignment, and mind mapping.
I now realize that perfectionism is a trap that prevents us from digging deep, releasing guilt, and realizing that we do not need to seek external approval for self-worth.
But even knowing this, I still see it trying to creep into my life every day.
Let me ask you, what are you sacrificing to be a perfectionist? How do you use perfectionism as an excuse in other areas of your life? How have you sidestepped your well-being or wellness to meet your expectations of perfectionism?
For me, after reading dozens of books and receiving many energy sessions, I can now be candid. Going above and beyond is often a tool we use to convince other people and ourselves that we belong and are worthy of being here.
The mind chatter or inner critic telling us we are not being good enough is fueled by, guess who? Our egos!
My perfectionism was always present but often in high gear when starting something new — the “something new” kickstarts my need to do it perfectly. But as we know, that is impossible because if we’re doing something for the first time, we don’t have that experience.
So, while mistakes and missteps are inevitable, they should not impact our decision to start, try, or check out something new and definitely not make us second guess our likeability or self-worth. Is there a particular project you were working on, a group of people you were trying to impress, or a particular time in your life when you believed perfectionism felt necessary?
Can you recall the first time you felt the need to get everything correct or perfect? When were you heavily praised for ‘thinking of everything’ or doing the steps others forgot?
Consider this your personal invitation to take a look at how perfectionism has impacted your inner dialogue and a motivation to embrace the journey of self-trust as you lean into your curiosities.
You may also enjoy reading Perfectly Imperfect: Saying Goodbye to the Curse of Perfectionism, by Laurence Favier.