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Perfectionism at work

Although it’s not a topic frequently discussed, perfectionism has become increasingly common among high-performing women in the workplace. Will you let me take a moment to share more about what it looks and feels like - and what a relief it is to transcend it?

When we’re operating from a place of health, perfectionists are amazing colleagues. We are conscientious, organized, ethical, reliable and wise. Over time, as we are rewarded for these traits, our perfectionism may crowd out other approaches, and it can eventually become the approach we default to day-in and day-out.

When our perfectionism takes over, we can experience meaningful burnout, exhaustion and anxiety. We feel incredibly alone in our stress, often feeling like we can’t confide in others how messy and precarious everything feels underneath the surface. My research has shown that, for these reasons, perfectionists are twice as likely to be considering a job change due to burnout.

Often, when operating from a place of perfectionism, our primary motivator is fear of failure or being exposed for our flaws, for “who we really are.” That can lead to a lot of tendencies that limit our careers over time. For instance, it can lead to a fear of taking risks, a tendency to wait for perfect information or perfect solutions, micromanaging the work of others, or opting out of jobs or new opportunities entirely. Perhaps most damaging of all is that we wear the armor of perfectionism everywhere, keeping a shield up that prevents others from really getting to know us for the amazing people we are – and preventing us from experiencing the comfort, the relief, the actual enjoyment that comes from being seen and known for who we really are, “flaws” and all.

But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can let go and in the process empower others, you can make mistakes and become wiser as you learn from them, you can be imperfect but still excellent, you can talk about your fears so others can offer support, and you can let others see you for who you really are and be loved for it. I know it feels impossible right now – but it is within reach. We can get there with baby steps, and with a community of support around you – other talented, successful women just like yourself who want to maintain excellence in their work, but let go of the trappings of trying to be beyond-excellent, to be perfect.

Do your future professional self a favor and join us at Beyond Perfect – come and experience what it is like to feel belonging in your job, to develop sustainable professional habits, and to start enjoying work again.

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