When being perfect leaves you feeling burdened and exhausted

A  senior business leader, mother, partner, daughter, friend...

Perfect looks so good!

When Jane, a senior leader in a multinational consulting company, started coaching, there were never enough hours in the day.  Weeks saw her accomplishing a to-do list of impressive magnitude and the weekends engaging fully as mother, daughter, partner and friend.  Only problem was how long this could go on....  she could never switch off from work, was always exhausted and felt there was always more to be done and always someone depending on her. 

Performing perfectly for her audience was her story - what mattered to others took priority.  Despite Jane’s commitment to live with more balance and discernment, making changes was not easy for her.   Her success, wasn’t it after all built on this very way of operating?

Through her coaching, Jane was able to see how striving for perfection was masking a deeper story of “it's never enough” which drove her on and on.  She realised it would never be enough, she would never stop, unless she could imagine a different way of being and living in the world. 

She was inspired to live her life from a place of power and free spiritedness instead of performance and perfectionism. First, Jane learnt how to notice her habitual perfectionism story in the moments of her day - to catch herself in “it’s never enough” mode and to step back and see that she had a choice. 

She learnt to stop before saying yes and consciously chose what to delegate or stop doing in order to take on anything new.  She started prioritising her own needs and having courageous conversations when this meant saying no to others requests or needs.  She reached out for support and accepted that she did not need to do it all.  She took up exercise and softened into life, allowing space for spontaneous joy and unplanned activities.   She was ranked one of the top performers in the company recently, and accepted that she would always perform well but that this need not be at her expense and the expense of what matters most to her.

5 tips for dealing with perfectionism:

  1.  Support:  Who is in your support network?  Learn to reach out and share the burden.  Let others know you are taking strain.  Let down your guard and allow yourself to be seen?  Notice how this shifts your connections and relationships.
  2. Time:  Ask yourself what matters most here? Then redistribute your time accordingly by pushing back, delegating, requesting others assistance or simply saying no.
  3. Make mistakes, break the rules, challenge the status quo – see what happens.
  4. Do at least one thing a day that has no productive value other than to give you joy, make your relax or make you laugh.
  5. Get on top of your thinking and your beliefs.  Where is the perfectionism most prevalent?  What’s its impact?  What is the perfectionism robbing you of each day?