Want to know why I’m so inspired to do this work? Because I’m right there with you in having grappled with perfectionism – hesitant to let much of it go, but recognizing how much of it is holding me back.
As is often the case for high-achieving perfectionists, my perfectionism served me well in my young life. It helped me get good grades, and it set me on a path to good schools – all of which gave me the foundation I needed to take on big jobs and lead organizations that created a really positive impact in the world.
But in my early 30s, I began to see the limits of my perfectionism – both in terms of how effective it was as an approach and in terms of the toll it took on my satisfaction and on the people around me. As the professional work I took on became more complex and ambiguous, my superpower related to working long hours with extreme conscientiousness was no longer enough to solve the thorny social challenges my organization was tackling, and I was burning myself out in the process. And as I became a mom, I found that no matter how perfectly I followed the instructions of the books I read, it didn’t mean my children would react in the ways promised. So I found myself falling into a cycle of trying harder, working harder, sleeping less, blaming myself, and looking to others to try to figure out what I must be doing wrong.
Thankfully, I hit a breaking point one day and realized there must be a better way. I launched a period of study and experimentation related to perfectionism. In the process, I began to experience the relief of going beyond patterns of perfectionism in my parenting, my work, my marriage, my exercise, my spiritual life, and my friendships. I started living out of a place of greater authenticity, genuine connection with others, and deeper joy. Not only did I feel so much lighter and like myself again, but others noticed too. My husband saw the change within me. My parents saw the difference and were so proud. My kids loved laughing more with their mom. And my friends told me they were grateful I was showing up in a more real and connected way.
And that’s why I’m energized each and every day to lead our work at Beyond Perfect: Not because I’ve figured out all of the answers, but because I’ve experienced the joy that comes with helping other high-achieving women take first steps in the direction of the lives we so deeply want to lead. I’ve learned along the way that we don’t have to do this work alone – and that the most lasting change comes when we have a thoughtful community around us to turn to for support, encouragement and insight.
(Recent family photo here – taken during a moment of throwing my perfectionist rulebook out the window and letting our girls stay out waaaay past their bedtime on a beautiful summer evening. Best memory in a long time.)