4 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back (And How to Break Free)

A man and a woman whiteboarding

4 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back (And How to Break Free)” originally appeared on Fairy God Boss, an advice blog that makes it easier for you to take care of yourself.


In the business world, there are no gold stars for effort or report cards to gauge your progress.

Yet a common mistake is treating work like school. As CEO and author, Sallie Krawcheck points out:

Let’s not confuse what made us successful in school for what can make us successful in our careers.

While an honor roll mindset can translate into a drive to succeed that lands you deals and accolades, it can easily lead to workaholism and burnout. The industriousness that served you well in school may now be what’s actually hindering your productivity and professional progress.

That’s because when you hold yourself to exacting standards — as many high-achievers do — you can get caught in the trap of perfectionism.

Continue reading 4 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back (And How to Break Free)

How Perfectionism Hurts Your Relationships

mom on phone and computer with baby

Often, people think of perfectionism as positive. After all, who doesn’t want to be perfect? Perfection isn’t attainable, though. The search for it can ruin relationships and contribute to extreme levels of anxiety and rigidity. Let’s examine an example of how perfectionism can sabotage an intimate relationship for a mother of two.

Anna (not her real name, a composite based off of several clients I have had in my practice) is a 35-year-old mom of two kids, ages three and five. She has always been a high achiever and currently is a high-performing real estate agent as well as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, homeowner, and pet owner. Anna has prided herself on her appearance, and she likes to keep her house tidy and neat. She also wants to be perceived as thin and fit, which she insists helps her make sales on the job. Continue reading How Perfectionism Hurts Your Relationships

The Imperfection of Perfectionism

pyramid red blue berries

Many people strive for some form of perfection. Whether in their work, in their appearance, in their relationships, in their expectations of others. There are a number of problems with perfectionism not the least of which is that it is simply not possible. Perfection is an ideal, which, almost by definition, is unattainable. Like trying to stand in the middle of a rainbow; as it’s approached, it recedes.

The other problem is that the criteria used to gauge perfection are suspect. How did we arrive at the criteria? Is the criteria valid? And, even if we were to judge the criteria as valid, will it remain so through time? If our expectations change, then how perfect could the criteria have been in the first place? Perfection suggests no room for improvement. It’s the ultimate, the top of the line, can’t get any better. It’s perfect! The irony of perfectionism is that to hold such a high standard, as an ideal, is an imperfection; it is an irrational and illogical standard by which to gauge and determine success or happiness. Continue reading The Imperfection of Perfectionism