How Perfectionism is Holding You Back

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I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving. I was spending time with my nieces over the weekend and I remembered how important it used to be that every moment with them was planned and scheduled. Now, it is so different and so much more fun because I’m not worried about sticking to the perfect schedule. 

I see this idea of perfectionism, and it is so pervasive, especially with the clients I work with. Even with myself, it is something I am working to recover from. Perfectionism is characterized by striving for flawlessness, accompanied by critical self-evaluations. I want to share how it is holding you back, and how to overcome it. 

Topics in this episode

  • How perfectionism is self-destructive and addictive
  • When we do feel shame, blame, or judgement, we think it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. 
  • The motivation of perfectionism is internal.
  • Healthy achievement entails growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. 
  • What if you are enough in this moment?
  • Minimum baseline: what is the minimum amount that seems do-able? 
  • You determine your worth 

If you have any questions, send me a message at . I would love to connect. You can also connect with me on Facebook, and Instagram,


Hello hello hello –

How are you guys doing today?

Hopefully you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I had a nice weekend – I was able to see my nieces

Well – it was cut a little short because we had a winter storm coming in but it was still so much fun

Actually – what is kinda funny is when I first started doing things with the oldest niece I was like a crazy person

Scheduling every minute We were going to have fun –
Whether she liked it or It was go go go
And now – fast forward a couple of years And a couple more
Marc was asking what the plan was and I was like –

Well – we are doing nails and lunch and playing the rest by ear… So different
And so much more fun for all of us I think

I love to pick out some songs to jam with them

You know – I have to show them I have some So this trip I wanted to have them listen to Pink’s song – Perfect
I think it is so important to teach these young minds they are already perfect As is
Because I see this idea of perfectionism so pervasive Especially with my clients
And it takes one to know one I’m really working on recovery lol.

So this is what I want to talk to you about today The idea of perfectionism
So many of you are perfectionists

When I went over to the all knowing Googles I see the definition of perfectionism is:
A personality trait

Characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards,
Accompanied by critical self evaluations and concerns regarding Others evaluations
Perfectionism is different from striving for excellence

So lets take a look at what perfectionism is really focused on Perfectionism is focused on yourself

It’s about your attempt to strive for flawlessness And your concern of what others think
Brene Brown says this is a self-destructive behavior And addictive
Because it stems from a belief that if I do everything perfectly I don’t have to feel blame, or judgement or shame
But here’s the thing you guys Perfectionism is an unattainable goal
Because if the motivation is more to control what others think about us – Vs internal motivation
Well we have a problem

Because we can’t control what others think of us No matter how hard we try

And Brown says perfectionism is addictive because

When we do actually experience the feelings of shame or blame or judgement We think it’s because we weren’t perfect enough
And so instead of questioning the idea of being perfect We become more attached to our story
And try even harder to do all the things “perfectly” And then – when we do feel those feelings
We add on to it by telling ourselves That we feel this way
Because we are not good enough

Again – instead of questioning what the hell good enough really is Can you see that?
Now – healthy achievement usually entails growth Perfectionionism Brown says is more of a defensive move We want to defend against having to feel those feelings
Perfectionism does not protect us from those feelings as much as it Keeps us playing small
Because so often we think – we can’t do something Until we know it is going to be perfect
We make these grand elaborate plans

But then we don’t go through with them because

Well – we just aren’t quite sure they are going to be perfect You know the other part that drives this perfectionist idea Is the fear of failure
This hits home for me for sure

I will never forget my very first sales interview

The manager was Greg Karlik and it was at the local NBC affiliate in Albany NY

He asked what motivated me And my answer was
Fear of failure

He said – one day Michelle you will be motivated by wanting to succeed Such a different spin

And I used to think perfectionism was a I don’t know – noble?
Attribute to have

But really – as Brene says – it’s not self improvement Because at the core its about wanting approval
It’s driven but the idea that you are what you accomplish I see this in my work –
It’s in so many occupations But I really see it in sales
You are judged on your number right?

And as we say – you go from hero to zero in a quarter But what if that wasn’t really true?
What if you are still 100% of your life No matter what the number Because here’s what I see so often We think our career defines us
So if we need to keep going and going and going In order to be perfect
We are always striving for this false idea But what if
You are enough in this moment

As is

!00% worthy

So you don’t have to strive for THAT ‘
And you get to strive now for attainable goals

Here’s what I mean

Let’s use a a couple of examples

This is excellent timing too with the New Year right around the corner And New Years resolutions coming up
Let’s say you want to start working out more So you have this grand plan
You get the gym membership

You tell yourself you will go everyday

Because – why would you do anything less right? It has to be all
Or nothing

So you start out and you go every day For the first few weeks
And then – well maybe you miss a day because of something at work And then you miss a day because something came up with the kids So now you are thinking
Well – why even bother I’ve missed these days
I can’t seem to make it 7 days so instead I’ll just stop Why bother if it’s not going to be perfect right?
Or – maybe you have this idea for work

And you think you could be on to something But you are just not sure of a couple of points

So you stall

And you don’t submit it

Because you are waiting to be sure you have all the info So you can turn in the perfect version
Well – now you get busy with your normal day to day work And that gets put on the back burner
Never to be seen Because it wasn’t perfect Or –
Let’s look at eating healthy You have this grand idea
Post holidays you are going to cleanse

Start getting back to eating clean on every meal But then maybe you have one or two exceptions
And you start beating yourself up for not sticking to it Which makes you feel terrible
So you say screw it You’ll start again later
And so the cycle continues of having grand plans

Because your perfectionist brain insists anything else is not worthy And then you don’t complete them
Because they are typically not attainable Do you see the pattern?
You know what is happening here?

You are losing the trust you have with yourself You are making these crazy commitments That you don’t keep

And that just keeps chipping away at the relationship you have with yourself And my friends
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one there is So
What can you do instead? Well – I’m here to tell
I have two ideas I want to share with you

The first one is a super simple question to ask yourself How can I be of service to this person?
Its’ a question I like to ask my self in all situations How can I serve my coworkers,
My clients, My patients
Here’s the shift

Asking how you can be of service for them puts the focus on them It’s not about you having to be perfect
Its about how you can help them So you aren’t thinking
Will they like me?

Is it going to be perfect?

You are simply thinking about how you can help them – It comes from such a different space
See the difference?

The second suggestion I have for you Is a tool I use with my clients
It’s called the minimum baseline

Now – your perfectionist brain will want to revolt

It is very different than what it is used to

For any goal I want you to think about what the minimum amount is for you to do Without any mind drama
It’s just the minimum amount that seems super doable. Let’s say it’s the working out example
Instead of saying you have to work out 7 days a week Start with a minimum baseline
So maybe its 3 days a week for 20 minutes Now
your perfectionist brain might be saying Seriously?
20 minutes? Why bother?
But here’s the thing

Small consistent changes over time brings not only lasting change But it builds the relationship you have with yourself
That’s what I want you to focus on here

You start showing yourself that you have your own back You make commitments to yourself that you keep
And you know what happens as you do that?

Well you don’t need everyone else’s approval like you used to Because you approve of yourself
Now – once you have the 20 minutes 3 times a day set Like – its a habit
Well for sure you can build on it So maybe you up it to 30 minutes
But do not do that until you have the consistency set

With the minimum baseline Same idea with the food
Instead of saying you are now only eating paleo

Start by incorporating a couple of paleo meals a week A minimun baseline
Maybe 4 paleo meals a week And once that is just a habit Add more
Now – listen

I want to encourage you to watch your brain with this tool Start with one area in your life
That perfectionist brain will be like –

Ok – lets set minimum baselines for everything No
Start with one area And remain consistent
Focus on building the relationship you have with yourself

You start showing up for the small things and you will see big changes You start doing things you maybe haven’t done in the past because of fear You stop playing small because of your fear of failing
Let’s discuss the work example Think about it
You have a great idea – but you are waiting to make sure everything is “perfect” And so nothing is submitted
It’s like failing ahead of time

But what if you submitted SOMETHING And instead of thinking you are failing

if it’s not quite what you want

You decide it’s an opportunity to learn Right?
And if you’ve been building the relationship with yourself by doing the minimum baseline consistently

You aren’t so worried about what others think Because at the end of the day
They are not what determines your worth You are my friend
Your thoughts about yourself determine that Make sense?
This is great news

You are in charge of what you think

I really want to encourage you to try this

I use it myself – I use it with clients – it works If you have any questions reach out to me
Send me a message –

I would love to connect

And remember – you can always connect with me on Facebook and Instagram – Michelle Bourque coaching

Ok – that’s what I have for your today Let’s circle back next week
For now – make it a great day – take care!

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