Managing Your Perfectionism

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People pleasing.


Unrealistic expectations.


Imposter syndrome.

Do any of these sound familiar to you at work? If the answer is yes, then you (or someone you know) might be dealing with perfectionism. 

Author and political activist Anne Lamott once wrote “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people,” and studies show that 86% of employees believe that perfectionist expectations have impacted their career. Quite an enemy.

Perfectionism often gets in the way of progress, and many of us struggle with it in the workplace. Whether it’s a fear of failure, or genuinely wanting to excel at work, perfectionist habits ultimately tend to inhibit productivity and lead to burnout. Specifically, let’s take a look at how perfectionism might be inhibiting you at work.


Perfectionism can de-motivate you by causing you to have to stare down impossible or unrealistic standards. It’s easy to sort of check out when faced with unreasonable standards, because you might sense that failure is unavoidable.

If you find yourself constantly lacking motivation due to a fear of failure, remember this motto:

Progress, not perfection.

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect (or even complete) for it to be great, useful, or impactful. Instead of starting with the goal of perfection in mind, start with the goal of progress: aim to do something that helps you, your team, or someone else make progress.

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