Leave Perfectionism at the Door

Remind yourself of what really matters.

Imposter Syndrome

Inspired by:

Sinead Sharkey-Steenson, Career Coach and Strategist


Leave perfectionism at the door

As Brené Brown says, "Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield.”

Since perfection isn’t actually attainable, seeking perfection becomes an insatiable addiction.

Here are some mental exercises for digging into perfectionist tendencies and reminding yourself of what really matters.

🧠 Put your brain on the witness stand

If you feel yourself being overly critical, ask yourself: 1. What am I ashamed of? 2. Why am I judging myself? 3. Why am I blaming myself?

For example, many people strive to be unrealistically productive, and criticize themselves when they don’t finish their to-do list.

If this happens to you, reflect on the 3 questions then ask: “Would I hold a friend or colleague to the same standards?”

Most likely, the answer is no. This serves as a good reminder for self-compassion.

🙅 Acknowledge that perfection and self-development are different

Perfectionism is how you appear to others. Self-development is how you appear to yourself.

You can’t control other people’s perceptions, so trying to be perfect for them is pointless.

When you have negative thoughts about your abilities, try asking yourself: *“Am I worried about how I will appear to others or reaching my own standards?”

You’ll often find it’s the former and that’s when you need to do you best and let go of the rest.

👁️ 3. Train your eye for impact

If you’ve done the first two mental exercises and you’re still feeling ashamed or incapable, there’s another trick you can use.

Force yourself to focus on the positive. Write down 3 ways you made an impact every day.

For example: “Today I mentored Jane, I released a new feature, and provided a quote for a blog feature.”

Over time, this exercise will become proof that you’re making some real traction. It might not be perfect, but it’s worth celebrating all the same!

Bring it back to Brené

“When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying backseat driver.”

YOU should be in the driver’s seat, not your perfectionist tendencies.

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