Q&A: Perfectionism is holding me back!

Feb 21, 2024 | Burning Question


I am a perfectionist. I admit it. I want everything to be exactly as I envision it. The details matter! The pressure I put on myself stresses me to the max, but I don’t know how to stop it. I sense this creates distance at times between me and my friends. And recently, I was not invited to an outing with my teammates after we finished a big project. How can I overcome these perfectionist tendencies? – Katie, 28

A. You have the self-awareness to know this is an issue to be addressed – that’s great. Perfectionism is an unrealistic standard. For anyone. There are approximately 8 billion people on this planet and guess how many are perfect? NONE! 😉 Remind yourself of that sobering fact.

It’s important to distinguish your drive for excellence from an expectation of perfection. Having high standards and putting forth your best effort is healthy. It becomes unhealthy when your desire for excellence creates more negative results than positive ones. Begin by accepting that you may fall short of expectations sometimes. That’s okay – it’s part of being human. 🤷‍♀️

Next, set realistic standards. Define what “good enough” looks like for you. When you feel overly judgmental, ask yourself if this is a business-critical issue or something you can let go of. Also, confide in your teammates about how perfectionism negatively impacts you and ask for their support. Lastly, consider speaking to a coach or therapist if perfectionism continues disrupting your life. With practice, support and self-compassion, you can work to overcome this. 💪


I keep waiting for life to be easier. I thought it would be easier after landing the promotion. Getting my own 1-bedroom apartment. Paying down a chunk of my college debt. No matter what I do, everything is (still) so hard. I’m always exhausted and never have that feeling of “making it.” WHEN does it get easier? – Wendy, 32

A. It’s natural to expect life to get easier, but the truth is, it often doesn’t. At least, not in the way we hope or expect. With each accomplishment, we experience new thrills and new challenges. Think of life as rolling hills instead of one big slog up a mountain. Each step forward (or upward) comes with new expectations and opportunities. Getting the promotion brings more responsibility. Having your own apartment requires more time and effort to make it feel like home. Paying down debt lightens your load, but you establish bigger financial goals. 💵

These are the growth cycles of life!

The challenge is to celebrate your progress AND recognize that each new horizon will reveal new hard moments to navigate.

For inspiration, check out Kara Dawson’s truth-telling pep talk she gave to her Duke Women’s basketball team last year. Or, tune into Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach’s podcast that declares – we can do hard things! 💪

With awareness and determination, YOU can do hard things. And, the good news is that by putting in the effort, you will get stronger, develop grit, and build resilience – the essential toolkit for doing hard things and finding more ease in your life.

If your work.life feels out of control, take control.

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