6 Tips to Overcome the Pressure for Perfection and Increase Confidence

You’re not alone in feeling the pressure for perfection.

Yesterday, as I was preparing my green curry crock pot dish chopping garlic cloves into minced garlic, I wondered, “at what point does chopped garlic become small enough to be minced garlic?” Then I took a look at my tiny garlic bits and said, “looks good enough” and threw the ingredients into the vegetable pan.

Within a few seconds, my brain spiraled down the “why” line of thinking.

  • Why do I care if the garlic is perfectly minced?
  • Why do I feel like I need to be a perfectionist in cooking, cleaning, fitness, work, finances, and practically everything else that is considered a basic component of being an adult?
  • Why do I care about perfecting my makeup look? Or my style of clothes?
  • Why do I put so much pressure on myself?
  • Why do I feel isolated with feeling this pressure?

So here we are, addressing the pressure for perfection.

Perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, high achievement, worrying about failure. Does this sound familiar?

What causes this feeling of immense pressure? Society. Ourselves. External and internal influences.

Pressure for perfection.

From a young age, girls are told to “be a good girl” or “act like a lady.” As we get older, women feel the influence of advertisements and unspoken expectations every day. Women internalize the information and feel a pressure to:

  • Dress well
  • Support the family
  • Support the community
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Look nice
  • Be happy
  • Cook well
  • Clean well
  • Take care of the house
  • Take care of the kids
  • Support your coworkers
  • Be professional
  • Be caring
  • Take on more work to help others

The Pressure for Perfection Runs Deep

These pressures are in our personal lives and even seep into professional settings. For example, research proves that women face frustrations around gendered expectations in the work environment,

We find that one reason why women feel more frustrated than men by these positive gendered expectations is that women and men face gender stereotypes that differ in the extent to which they affirm a sense of autonomy. In the Western world, people tend to strive to maintain an autonomous sense of self. But while Western society is subtly communicating that an ideal self is an autonomous, independent self, society is also telling women that they should be interdependent and connected to others. We find that this conflict helps explain women’s frustration toward the positive gender stereotypes they experience.”

Devon Proudfoot, assistant professor of human resource studies in the ILR School

No wonder women are overwhelmed with pressure! We have conflicting expectations placed upon us. We are seemingly expected to be great in almost every aspect of life – health/wellness, home chores, work environment, finances, community, and family. Then when we are not perfecting each aspect of life, our self-confidence crumbles. Something feels like a “lack-of,” like a “not good enough.”

Ladies, I’m here to tell you that you ARE good enough. We have the power to remove this pressure, to change the narrative, and to focus on the strengths. It is impossible to be perfect. It is OK to be mediocre in some areas of life. It is OK to ask for help if something is not in your wheelhouse of skills.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, Hollis emphasizes how people who succeed have help. People who succeed do not do it all on their own. People who succeed knew where, when, and how to ask for help from others.

In an effort to help you succeed without burning out, to help you feel confident with what you do know, and to help you to be your best self each day, I put together these:

6 Tips to Overcome the Pressure for Perfection:

  1. Set realistic goals.
    Be realistic with yourself and understand that you are only one person. One person who also needs time for self-care. Keep a few goals at a time so you have focus.
    When I get overwhelmed, I need to reassess my goals and ask myself, what is realistic for the next few weeks?
  2. Consider delegating. Think through areas where outsourcing help or finding an “easier” solution may be beneficial for you. For me, I sometimes need help with getting my apartment clean. I know that my cleaning skills are not to the level of a professional and there is no point in me getting frustrated with myself about it – Maple’s fur is everywhere!
  3. Be kind to yourself and think positively. You are doing the best you can. Yea, I’m working on this one for myself, too.
  4. Reflect on all of your accomplishments and write down all you’ve accomplished in a day/week/month.
    This is my favorite step. It forces you to look at how much of a power women you are.
  5. Identify what “good enough” looks like for you. When is the garlic minced enough? Having an idea of “good enough” helps to determine when to stop. Sometimes good enough is all that is needed for something to be considered DONE.
    When I felt I could not possibly get the garlic bits any smaller, that was good enough.
  6. Aim for balance. There is no point in killing ourselves to live and maintain life. Life is meant to be enjoyed – don’t forget that! I have found that living in New York City requires a hyper intentional mindset to create balance.

Ladies, life is stressful enough. Let’s be kinder to ourselves and remove this partially self-inflicted and partially society created pressure for perfection. Take these tips and make them your own. You will find that by breaking down the need for perfection, a new level of confidence will emerge (here are some exercises to work on confidence too).

Overcome the Pressure for Perfection

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