I remember back in my school days (and yes it was a few decades ago!) That I was told to work hard, to push myself to achieve higher results. The expectation seemed to be that I would always score highly in exams and that of course, I wouldn’t let my, teachers and parents, down.
Then I’d be rewarded with praise and validation, which made me want to achieve even more.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that having those high expectations. Whether they were my standards or expectations that I assumed others had of me, they were setting me up to fail.
Nobody can achieve perfect results or even extremely high expectations all the time. We are only human. That means at some point I would fail and experience my own and others disappointment. Something, I wasn’t used to or prepared for.
That doesn’t mean you should stop striving for goals or growing and learning.
It does mean, that the expectations you set yourself need to have a reality check.
It was thought that being a perfectionist drives you to deliver great work and achieve career success up to a certain level. At that point, visibility and confidence are more important and the procrastination and long delivery timescales can hold you back.
Studies have now shown that in fact, perfectionism doesn’t help you in your career at all.
Non-perfectionists can deliver at the same high standard as their detail focused colleagues. In fact, they also do it more productively as they’re not held back by procrastination, a fear of failure or spending extra time crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.
That means that while you as a perfectionist spend time with your head down at your desk, worrying whether your work is good enough. Colleagues are building relationships, sharing successes and being visible. All the important elements for career progression.
I suggest you start to consider your expectations
Are they realistic, would you expect them of others and do they hold you back?
Ask yourself, what expectations a colleague or boss would have of your job role? Do they need your level of delivery or do you push yourself to that standard to feel secure and validated?
Instead, try setting more realistic goals for yourself, then if you exceed them it’s a bonus. That will give you time and energy to focus on self-promotion and relationship building.
Perfectionism is one of the subjects I cover in my book GOOD ENOUGH – A Career Woman’s Guide To Confidence, Courage and Credibility. It’s available for pre-ordering for the next 21 days only!
the natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women don’t act, when we hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back. But when we do act, even if it’s because we’re forced to, we perform just as well as men do’.
My question for you is what are you going to do today to narrow the confidence gap?
Caring what others think, is a natural behaviour not a problem. It helps us to be accepted and feel secure in the tribe. Worrying what others think, however, is a problem.
The difference is when you care what others think, you take on board and respect their opinion, but you don’t let it determine your decision or affect your self-worth.
Whereas when you’re worrying what others think, you allow their judgement to define what you think about yourself.
Many of my clients tell me, they regularly worry about what their boss and colleagues at work think. Whether it’s about what they say in meetings, the decisions they make or how they compare. it can lead to a paralysis in your life. You may become stuck in a rut and unable to trust yourself to make decisions or take actions.
This can lead to self-doubts and stop you from speaking up or making decisions. You may then become stuck in a rut and unable to trust yourself to go for new opportunities or take on extra responsibilities.
With some clients, this has led to them ignoring their wants and needs and instead, they become totally focused on getting approval from others. (See my earlier blog on Helen the People Pleaser). This really kills your confidence and knocks your self-esteem.
Fortunately, it is possible to reduce your worrying and care more about your own needs, beliefs and desires.
A couple of quick tips to help you are:
Start being aware of when you are making decisions or taking actions based on others approval. Challenge yourself as to why you are doing this and whether you could do it differently
Develop self-approval. Record the achievements you make, the things you’re proud of and your positive strengths. Congratulate yourself when you show the confidence to keep to your beliefs