I Honestly Thought I was Over my PERFECTIONISM!

Really! I mean, I have known that I am a perfectionist from a very young age. I couldn’t stand to get something on my clothes, I liked things in order, and if I got a 98 on a test, my first thought was where do those 2 points go! I’ve known this about myself forever. But I really thought I kicked the habit.

Then, I was working on a project. A project I received this summer (hey, no judgement, I’m being real here). It is really unlike me to drag my feet on something. I am a highly motivated self-starter and when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. But this project, was killing me. I would set deadlines for myself and then blow them. The person who was waiting for it, was in no hurry and so kind every time I blew my self-imposed deadline, that it wasn’t helping. So finally, I started to force myself to work on it.

It was slow and painful. I kept starting and stopping. Pausing to ask my coaches questions. (yes, I have coaches. Coaches need coaches. There is always someone further along in their journey that can help you get where you want to be.) Okay, so I used all these tactics to slowly put this together, stall and stop, scrutinize and then as I am walking  through my kitchen cleaning up after dinner, it hits me…I can’t get this done because I’m so afraid of making a mistake.

See, it’s part of a new venture for me; a new offering in my business. And while I have decades of experience and know I can deliver an amazing project, I’m afraid of getting it wrong. I want them to tell me what they want so I can parrot it back to them instead of telling them what I offer and what I am good at. I want them to tell me what they pay, so I don’t have to figure it out. What if I charge too much and they think I’m full of myself? What if I charge too little and they think I don’t have value or I’m a joke? All of these things were working on the background, as I tried to write this proposal.

I didn’t think of it as perfectionism because I wasn’t set on being perfect. But perfectionism shows up in many different ways: fear of making mistakes, fear of not being good enough, fear of failing, black and white thinking, procrastination, etc…

Once, I recognized what was happening and that this was my perfectionism showing up, I just sat down and wrote. I wrote from my heart and wrote what I needed to say, knowing I could edit it later. Knowing that if it’s meant to be, they will accept my offer and if not, it’s a stepping stone in my journey. Knowing that action breeds clarity and that the only failure is not taking the risk of being “wrong.”

Many (probably most) highly ambitious, high-performing people are perfectionists. In fact, our perfectionism works for us, that’s why we hold on to it. But what has gotten you to this point, is not what is going to get you to the next level. To keep up-leveling, you have to do things new, different, uncomfortable and unconventional.

Where is perfectionism holding you back and what risk do you need to take to up-level, especially as it pertains to this time of year? Please share in the comments below.

If you are a high-achieving leader who needs help overcoming your perfectionism, so that you can make your big impact, contact me.


  • Dr. Donna Marino (PsyD)

    Psychologist & Executive Coach

    Donna Marino, PsyD, Ltd

    Dr. Donna Marino is a Psychologist and Executive Coach. She is an expert in helping high-achieving leaders move from burnout to SUSTAINABLE peak performance, so that they can fulfill their mission while also experiencing greater health, happiness, and relationships. Dr. Marino has over 20 years of experience in human potential and transformational change.

    As a high-achiever, who works with high-achievers, she discovered a collection of characteristics that when left unchecked lead to burn out, high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression. She coined the term for this condition, High-Achievers Syndrome (TM) and developed a protocol for dealing with it, recovering and creating SUSTAINABLE peak performance.

      Dr. Donna is also a sought after speaker and author on leadership, peak performance, and burnout recovery.