Perfectionism is the refusal to accept anything less than perfect.

Here’s the rub, though. We are human beings, and we are not perfect. Nothing in nature is. So, why do we think that be or do any better than what a higher power has already created? Yet, even knowing this in our head, our relentless drive to be perfect can keep us in a highly anxious state.

It can be a big problem for women in leadership or those who aspire to get there. First, it slows productivity down as you are constantly refining for perfection. Second, it bogs down decision-making because you are afraid of making the wrong one. Third, it keeps you mired in the details because you can’t let go of them, having to make sure it’s all done correctly. Finally, it keeps you from tapping into your true potential because you never have the time to explore what that is.

It’s a hamster wheel, it’s stressful, and it’s time to get off.

But what can you do if you are a perfectionist? Or a recovering perfectionist, as I say.

Here are 5 powerful strategies to help you move ahead.

Develop an awareness of yourself and your thinking. 

No change can happen without this first step. Pay attention to when you think you are being perfectionistic. The feelings of stress and anxiety will illuminate the way to answering, “Am I trying to be perfect in this situation?” The self-awareness that comes with discovering that you are falling into that trap again is gold! Only with that awareness can you begin to change the behavior.

Set goals to learn.

If you are only focused on what you want to achieve, you aren’t acknowledging yourself for what you’ve learned. Every bit of feedback we get is an opportunity to learn something new that wasn’t otherwise available to us to advance. Embrace the learning.

Embrace the notion that “practice makes permanent.

My coach is fond of saying, “you can’t turn a parked car.” Meaning, you’ve got to be in motion to make it easier to navigate. For some, it’s just getting started. For others, it’s willing to stay with it when things don’t go the way you want them to. So keep at it, knowing there will be feedback. Allow yourself the space to improve.

Don’t rely on praise; ask for feedback.

Many people focus on recognition in its many forms to know they are doing well. Things like good performance evaluations, a raise, or even verbal praise, but if you don’t have a boss who communicates or you work for a small team or are a solopreneur, then you’re unlikely to get it. Step into your own power through this practice and ask for specific feedback to improve.

Focus on and value the process. 

It’s not what you achieve or just the outcome; it’s about the process you take to get there. The successes you achieve personally and professionally are part of a process. With perfectionism, you deny yourself the opportunity to refine the process and evolve. It’s your journey, not your destination, that will serve you the most.

Please know that your perfectionistic tendencies weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be addressed overnight either. Take opportunities to walk back your perfectionism incrementally so you can walk confidently into the opportunities you deserve!


If you’d like an opportunity to have a conversation and explore what your next level of leadership and life looks like. One that is meaningful and aligned with who you really are, then click HERE to book a complimentary session.