Untangling From Fear Uncertainty + Doubt

The healthy alternative to perfectionism

January 30, 2020

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Over the past few months I’ve been connecting with you asking what your biggest challenges are in your career right now.


For many of you, perfectionism is one of those challenges. 


For some of you perfectionism is:


…..robbing you of your time and energy so that you can get further ahead with your plans. 

….taking you away from the other areas of your life that really matter to you – like your relationships, your kids, your health. 

….quite frankly burning and stressing you out. 


The truth is that whilst perfectionism can seem like a positive (and admirable) trait to have….it’s actually coming from a fearful place that isn’t actually productive to anyone. Especially you. 


Not sure what I mean?


Keep reading and hear me out….


Somewhere, somehow, many of us picked up the belief that doing a good job = being perfect.


Something I believe we picked up as little kids when we were encouraged to:


  • Get straight A’s
  • Colour within the lines
  • Be all rounded
  • Speak when spoken to
  • Keep our back straight
  • Stay clean and tidy

I’m not saying that these things are “bad” what I am saying is that as little kids, many of us took these rules too literally to heart. 


So much so that we….


Subconsciously we feel and believe that we have to do a million things “right” in order to be “good enough.”


…and so begins the cycle of always striving and doing more…that makes it hard to be human instead of perfect.


I call this subconscious belief that we have to be perfect, the Perfect Woman Imperative and I cover more about it in this blog post over here: The Real Reason You’re Not Satisfied With Your Life + Work


I believe that…


Unless we distinguish between perfectionism vs. high standards, we’ll forever be on the treadmill of trying to prove ourselves.


So let’s unpack the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving….


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Neutral Decor Image19

Perfectionism comes from a critical place. 

It looks like a task master sitting on your shoulder saying:


  • You’ve got to do better
  • It’s not good enough
  • Keep going, don’t stop, you don’t need to rest.

Whereas healthy striving is more about having an open attitude…


  • I’m going to see where I can go with this
  • I’m going to see what my growth edge is
  • What more can I do


Healthy striving has a very different feeling and energy about it. 


I invite you to think about how you can start to incorporate more healthy striving vs. perfectionist tendencies into your life.

Perfectionism can eat into a lot of areas in your life. 


It’s not actually an admirable trait.


If you’re stuck at your desk looking at something for the 100th time you’re perhaps not making the best use of your time.


Maybe you’re improving what you’re working on by 1% but is that 1% really going to make a difference?

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Coffee Shop Green Image 4


Instead of focusing on perfection, you could instead use that time on other things which are just as (if not more) important.


Things like:


  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Spend time with friends
  • Be creative
  • Play


These things make for a more wholesome life….which is what we’re here to live at the end of the day.


We’re here to enjoy a life and a career that matters. 


If you identify with being a perfectionist I highly recommend this book…


It’s called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.


Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston, author of 6 books and my girl crush.


In her book, she talks about how to live a wholehearted life and letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and instead embracing who you are. 


It’s backed with research, theory and tools and in general a fab book to get you to rethink perfectionism.


By the way if you love Brene as much as I do, you can check out here post here about which book to read first. Spoiler alert: The Gifts of Imperfection is the first one. 


Quote from page 58 of her book:


Like most women I struggle with body image, self-confidence and the always complicated relationship between food and emotions. Here’s the difference between perfectionism diets and healthy goals:


Perfectionism self-talk: “Ugh. Nothing fits. I’m fat and ugly. I’m ashamed of how I look. I need to be different than I am right now to be worthy of love and belonging.”


Healthy striving self talk: “I want this for me. I want to feel better and be healthier. The scale doesn’t dictate if I’m loved and accepted. If I believe that I’m worthy of love and respect now., I will invite courage, compassion and connection into my life. I want to figure this out for myself. I can do this.”


When you’re in this perfectionist trap you’re dieting and exercising like a fiend because you “should” and because you “have to”. It’s very much this task-master energy. 


Whereas if you’re coming from this healthy striving approach you’re getting back into your power and making choices for yourself. 


That’s the heart of its beauties…..


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Coffee Shop Green Image 2



YOU have the right to make your own choices and set the standards of “enough.”


The way you talk to yourself in the process of doing your work and going about life is huge. It’s not about what you do, it’s about the way in which you approach things (and how you talk to yourself). 


I invite you to make a conscious choice for yourself now deciding whether you are going to embody perfectionism vs. healthy striving:


+ Do you want to be a taskmaster driving yourself to perfectionism?




+ Are you going to adopt a healthy striving approach where you’re going to be nice, kind and compassionate to yourself? Like you would be your best friend?


If you want to dive deeper into this, check out my blog post on the Perfect Woman Imperative and how you can unhook from it’s subconscious grip that’s holding you back from moving forward with YOUR path and YOUR purpose.


The real reason you’re not satisfied with life and work (+ what to do about it)



Before you go, please leave a comment and let me know. 


+ What choice are you going to make? Perfectionism vs. healthy striving?


+ What challenges bubble up as you think about adopting a different approach to the standard you hold yourself to?


Witnessing you as you embrace more of the REAL you. 


With love,



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