A blog about leadership and confidence.

by Lisa Hinz     •      Leadership Development

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How to Free Yourself from the Chains of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can drive you to excel and achieve your goals, but on the other, it can become a paralyzing force that keeps you from moving forward.


An example:

Many years ago, I had been asked to leave a draft copy of a report on my boss’s desk before I left for a week-long vacation in Hawaii. He was out of town at the time and wanted to review it when he got back into the office.


After I flew into Hawaii, I got a call from him to go over a couple of things and he asked if I left him a copy, which I told him that I did. He asked if I had put it in a sealed envelope since it was confidential information that wasn’t to be released until it was approved, printed, and distributed.


I had not put it in a sealed envelope. I had not been instructed to. I had laid it face down on his desk with a note on it.


I let that one thing ruin half of my limited time in Hawaii.


👉 I was worried that someone might have looked at the information.


👉 I was worried that my boss thought I was a complete idiot for having not figured out that I should have sealed it up.


👉 I was worried that I was a complete disappointment to the organization.


Wow, I don’t miss those days.


Those days of constantly beating myself up for every little mistake...


Those days of living with the heaviness of not being perfect...


Those days of being fearful that I wasn’t living up to everyone else’s expectations...


The relentless pursuit of flawlessness can lead to anxiety, self-doubt, and a constant fear of failure. It's time to break free from these chains and embrace imperfection as a pathway to growth and contentment.


In this blog, we'll explore what perfectionism is, how it can hold you back, and practical strategies to overcome it, so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a mindset characterized by setting unrealistically high standards for oneself and striving for flawlessness in every aspect of life. While it's natural to want to do well and achieve your goals, perfectionism takes this desire to an extreme. Perfectionists often fear failure and criticism, which can lead to procrastination, self-criticism, and anxiety.

The Paralyzing Effects of Perfectionism:


Perfectionists may put off tasks because they fear they won't do them perfectly, leading to missed opportunities and unnecessary stress.



Constantly striving for perfection can result in harsh self-judgment, eroding self-esteem and causing a negative impact on mental health.


Fear of Failure:

Perfectionists often avoid taking risks, as they fear falling short of their high standards, missing out on valuable learning experiences.


Strained Relationships:

The quest for perfection can spill over into personal relationships, causing tension and dissatisfaction among loved ones.

Breaking Free from Perfectionism:

  1. Understand Your Perfectionism:

The first step to freeing yourself from the chains of perfectionism is to recognize and understand it. Ask yourself where these tendencies come from and how they've affected your life. Acknowledgment is the first step to change.


  1. Set Realistic Goals:

Replace the pursuit of perfection with a focus on setting realistic and achievable goals. Break down your objectives into smaller, manageable steps. This approach allows for progress without the burden of unrealistic expectations.


  1. Embrace Failure:

Failure is an inevitable part of life and growth. Embrace it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Remind yourself that nobody is perfect, and mistakes are stepping stones towards success.


  1. Practice Self-Compassion:

Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same empathy and understanding you'd offer a friend. It's okay to make mistakes and not have all the answers.


  1. Reframe Your Thinking:

Challenge your perfectionist thoughts and replace them with more realistic and constructive ones. For instance, instead of "I must be perfect," say, "I will do my best, and that's enough."


  1. Seek Support:

Don't hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Talking about your perfectionism and getting a different perspective can be incredibly helpful in your journey to overcome it.


  1. Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection:

Shift your focus from perfection to progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. This positive reinforcement will motivate you to keep moving forward.


Perfectionism can be a heavy burden to carry, preventing you from enjoying life to the fullest. Embracing imperfection is the key to breaking free from these chains.


By setting realistic goals, practicing self-compassion, and learning from your mistakes, you can experience personal growth and a sense of fulfillment that perfectionism often denies. Remember, you are perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else.


It's time to let go of the impossible standards and enjoy the journey of self-improvement and self-acceptance.

Lisa Hinz Writing

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