Why Perfectionism is Holding You Back

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Blog

Why Perfectionism is Holding You Back

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Want to know the secret to my success? I stopped pretending that I had it all together. The more I share my mistakes, my failures, my insecurities, the more people are attracted to me. Why? Because authenticity is magnetic. You don’t have to be perfect to do anything; to grow a business, to build a career, or have a life that you love. The pressure we put on ourselves from our perfectionist tendencies to present a flawless facade (especially on social media) can be suffocating. But by accepting ourselves fully, flaws and all, we open the door to authentic connections and endless possibilities. Here is how you can finally step out of the trappings of perfectionism to show up fully as yourself for the career you want and a life you love.


The highlight reel


In today’s world of social media and the internet, there’s often a stark contrast between what we consume online and the reality of our lives. We’re fed curated content and seemingly perfect influencers portraying an idealized life. But there’s a trend that’s taken hold in recent years. We crave more humanness in our communities and less perfection. Just think about the people you follow online. Do you love following people who act like they have it all figured out, are breezing through life, and have no problems? I’m guessing no. It’s boring and fake. 


We love following people who share their authentic journeys. Who show us that they’re figuring it out, just like the rest of us. Their honesty fosters an authentic connection with us, one we can actually relate to. And, yet, so many of us are still stuck trying to look perfect in our lives. Trying to pretend like we have it all together at work, at home, and in our relationships. Trying to portray that we’re not struggling with parenthood, finances, or life transitions. Trying to put on a brave face.


Perfection is not the norm and we know that. We don’t have to carry the burden of trying to appear put-together constantly. We can lean into embracing authenticity and accept that our imperfections are part of being human. I encourage you to let go of trying to appear perfect and prioritize authenticity. For me, the more I stop pretending like I have it all together, the more I allow myself to show up exactly as I am. 


You’re not the only one


Our brains often trick us into thinking that we’re the only ones experiencing certain emotions, like it’s just us that feels a certain way. Yet we all share the same set of common fears that we cycle through. Once you start seeing and recognizing that others go through the same struggles, it is empowering. You realize that you’re a normal human experiencing normal responses. 

During one of my coaching sessions, someone in our group raised her hand to get coaching. When I called on her, she expressed feeling really nervous—her heart was pounding, and she was sweating. She found it challenging to speak up, both at work and in other situations like talking in front of people. And of course her brain had convinced her that it’s just her who struggles with speaking up, that there was something wrong with her and only her. But her honesty in sharing her fear with us, even with a shaky voice, was quickly answered by every other person on that call, confirming that they also feel the same exact way. That as soon as they raise their hand and ask for coaching, their nerves kick in. Why? Because it’s a very natural way to feel. 


In the same coaching session, someone else shared a story from a conference they recently attended. During the Q&A, one of the panelists deferred an audience question by answering, “Oh I’m sorry, I only answer easy questions.” And everybody immediately laughed, but she was serious—she didn’t know the answer and asked if anyone else did. This honesty disarmed the situation, making her more likable and relatable. It also relieved her of the pressure to have all the answers.


I mention these examples to highlight that we all crave genuine connections with others. And being able to share the vulnerability of our less than perfect feelings and experiences is what creates those genuine connections. Nobody wants perfect. The power of being real and admitting vulnerabilities is evident in the way my client opened up about her nerves and the panelist disarmed the audience without having all the answers. The way to connect with people, the way to show up in your life as fully as possible is to just be you with all of your faults. 


Holding you back


None of us are perfect. And none of us should need to be perfect. I want you to consider how perfectionism is holding you back from living the life that you want to live or going after the dreams that you have. How would it feel to voice your imperfection instead of trying to cover up your racing heart and nervousness? What if you felt nervous asking the question, admitting your voice might shake and that speaking up is uncomfortable for you, but you still asked the question? How quickly will you disarm everybody else in the room? And how much more will you allow yourself to show up in your life? If you realize that you don’t have to have a steady voice–it can shake and you can still ask the question? That you don’t have to know every answer to be on a panel because you can be honest and say, “I don’t know, great question. That’s a hard one. I don’t know that one..?”


How much more are you willing to try when you don’t have to look like you have it together? None of us are looking for perfection from each other. So how would it feel to take off that burden and allow yourself to show up fully? I promise that’s available to you as long as you are willing to be okay with your whole self, weaknesses and all. 


Flaws and all


The more you are willing to accept that you are a full human and you will always be, and you are allowed to bring all of yourself; the more you can get to a place of understanding that you don’t have to hide any part of you. The opposite of your weakness is some strength that you hold. The more you can accept that and the more you can show up fully without trying to live up to some absurd standard, the more you will experience and will let yourself reach for. The more you will go after because you don’t have to wait to be perfect to go after it. I hope that you show up fully as yourself as you are now and let everybody else see the beauty in all of it.