I coach a number of working moms that share a tendency that is holding them back. It’s called perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by setting exceptionally high standards for oneself and striving for flawlessness in all aspects of life. It is often associated with a rigid mindset and a fear of making mistakes, leading to excessive self-criticism and self-doubt. Combine this with societal expectations and old-fashioned marketing, and we’ve got one heck of a recipe for some pretty stressed-out working women.
The dirty truth about perfectionism
Several studies have linked perfectionism to negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and burnout, particularly among high-achieving women. For example, a study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found that perfectionism significantly predicted burnout among female physicians. Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that perfectionism was associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of stress among both men and women.
No woman starts out thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be a perfectionist,” yet here we are. So, this Mother’s Day, let me give you a gift. You have my permission to forget perfect. Good enough is good enough.
To overcome perfectionism, working women can start by redefining success in more flexible and realistic terms and challenging their negative self-talk. This can involve setting achievable goals, embracing mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning, practicing self-compassion and self-care, and, most importantly, learning to say no.
Give yourself a break. When working at home, set aside one day a week where you don’t accept any Zoom calls. Instead, tell people you’re happy to speak with them by phone. This will give you a few minutes of extra time in the morning, where instead of applying makeup, you can relax over a cup of coffee.
Allow (or, shall I say, strongly suggest) your partner to participate in helping around the house. Will this person do things the same way you do? Probably not. But that’s okay, as long as no one gets hurt! Letting go can be liberating! It can free up time, energy, and mental space to focus on what truly matters, such as personal growth, relationships, and meaningful work.
Embracing imperfection can lead to greater innovation and creativity: When you allow yourself to make mistakes and experiment with new ideas, you open yourself up to new possibilities and opportunities for growth and innovation.
Ensure your perfectionism tendency doesn’t become a full-blown case of procrastination. Sometimes, the fear of not doing something perfectly can lead to procrastination or avoidance. Recognizing when perfectionism is holding you back and taking action can help you overcome this tendency.
In closing, my wish for you this Mother’s Day is that you have a perfectly imperfect holiday and that you find moments of peace and joy in the busyness of being a member of the working Mom’s club.