Is Perfectionism Your Mortal Enemy?

(Snippits from our oh so popular Digital Glue Podcast!)

Perfection … It is the enemy of happiness. Instead, we should be trying to embrace being perfectly imperfect.

Yes, it’s good to analyze what we’re doing with our business from time to time, so we don’t get stuck in what I like to call a “rinse n’ repeat” mode — which is truly the enemy of productivity. We shouldn’t (and can’t) be perfect at anything. Even though the land of social makes it seem like life is always floating around that way. And it’s truly not about getting more done. It’s about what you’re get done.

Perfectionism is dangerous and often driven by striving for excellence. But it can be quite self-sabotaging if it leads to suboptimal behaviour like continuing habits beyond their usefulness, overdelivering when you really don’t have to, or even overthinking every single decision you make. (We’re bad for that one sometimes!)

Besides always trying to “better” and surpass the scale of 120% on every single thing we do, both professionally and personally, about 30 out of 24 hours a day (you know this is you — well all do it!) … the real definition of perfectionism is stated as this …

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high-performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding other’s evaluations.

YIKES, right?!?! But in the same breath … we all do it even though we shouldn’t.

It’s almost as if this notion of being “perfect” was somewhere along the way embedded into our brains as a “must”. Especially if you live a life of creativity like my team and I do. Everything … EVERYTHING we produce is being viewed by virtual eyes. So, one teeny tiny error, typo, broken link, you name it sets us off as we want our businesses as well of those of our clients to have a certain level of professionalism with a twist of personality to every viewer who comes across these creations.

This tends to make our work habits different than most. And maybe, just maybe, we even perhaps set higher standards crossed with critical self-evaluations and the things we’re working on even though it isn’t always “our stuff”.

For me, I’ll down right admit it. I am a perfectionist. I like things to be nice, smooth, eye-catching, and well, as perfect as “perfect” can be. I have hilariously high expectations of myself and am always thinking that I am perhaps not doing enough, or that I could surely be doing more. But the problem with this is it makes one crazy. Always working extra long hours, tweaking until the sun comes up, re-thinking and re-jigging things that most human eyes may not even notice.

The other problem with perfectionism is that it is not human. We’re all perfectly imperfect. So am I, and probably so are you.


During a session, a few years back, with my career coach we got onto the topic of my habits. (Yikes!) One of them is being highly organized and what we’ll call a “clean freak”. Now I’m not just talking a clean and tidy home, but my office space, my desk, the way I run my business, and the way I help my clients get “untangled”. Every little, teeny bit of my life – both personally and professionally – has an air of virtual Lysol. LOL!

Personally, I tend to thrive and gain great levels of achievement and happiness on being “crazy” organized. Sometimes I go a bit overboard and I’m not too proud to admit that. But feel I am doing things in such a fashion to keep my mind occupied with other not so fun events. Now it has become a habit for me. And honestly, one that is so deep it’s hard to break.

Of course, perfectionism has its benefits, especially when it comes to our businesses. It motivates multi-passionate over-achievers (like me and my team) to pursue high standards along with new visions. We are driven to improve and innovate. We are disciplined and detail-oriented; both of which can be critical in professions where there is no margin for error. Such as I stated earlier being the virtual “untangling” guru’s we are in the land of #AllThings digital and creativity.

Now from a cultural standpoint, we prize perfectionism. Famous figures such as Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs or even Monica from the classic TV show Friends, are frequently credited with insisting that their teams strive for perfection. But what we don’t usually do is talk about the impact of working with someone who is a “control freak” or the collateral damage it may have to one’s creativity. Problems may arise when perfectionists take things to an unreachable level. They can sometimes set standards that are so impossible to meet and then devalue the work that does not meet these impossible standards. This can become a toxic loop. I’ve been in this loop with others before and trust me it’s not fun!
In all reality, perfectionism is just a distraction and a justification for procrastination. Some may even say it’s an excuse for never getting anything done. For many people though, perfectionism originated from their childhood (as did mine … really long story).

Research shows that this comes from parental pressure to achieve. In my case it was not having parents who cared enough about what I was doing. So, somewhere along the lines I placed this pressure onto myself as I wanted to be (and do) the opposite of them and how their lives were unfolding. I know that may sound cold, but until you know one’s past or what they’re dealing with now, it’s best to not judge and be mindful of their life path. Just as you would want someone to do for you.

Whatever the cause, perfectionists are much less likely to take risks because they are afraid of failing. And taking risks, along with the adaptability to learn from one’s mistakes and being resilient, are essential characteristics in perfectionism.

So, after talking with my team, my peers, my personal friends, and a handful of other truly wonderful people, I came up with a short list on ways to tackle perfectionism in the most mindful of ways.

Now remember, there’s a difference between being a high-achiever and being a perfectionist. Both want to succeed, but high achievers are motivated to do their best, while perfectionists are motivated by fear.

Here’s our TOP 10 list to overcoming perfectionism …

  1. Be more mindful and aware of your tendencies.
  2. Make a conscious effort to focus on positivity.
  3. Set realistic goals without impossible standards (or expectations).
  4. Allow yourself to make mistakes. There’s always room for improvement with our “gifts of imperfections” (Thanks Brene Brown for that lovely line.)
  5. Make more effort to focus on the meaning of what you’re doing.
  6. Reduce the cold/hard pressure you place on yourself. In other words, be kinder and lower unrealistic standards.
  7. Don’t take criticism too personally. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Including you.
  8. Cut negative influences from your life. This doesn’t only include people but things like certain social platforms, TV and movies, books, or even blogs and podcasts that may reinforce this behaviour.
  9. Stop doing nothing. Perfect isn’t done. And by this, I mean stop slacking off and being a notorious procrastinator.

And lastly …

  1. Talk to someone or go to therapy to push out the anxiety behind this behaviour so you can begin to understand the deeper reason behind the pressure of needing to be “perfect”.

All habits, no matter what their form, are truly hard to break. Especially if it is like this one, it has become part of your daily routine and for a long period of time. But the overall mechanics are easy to put into practice.

So, be willing to make mistakes. Even if it’s a lot of them. Even if it’s every single day. Take time to understand that we are all doing it, every single one of us, all the time. We are continuously messing up so we can learn from it then do better next time.

I guess overall what I’m trying to say is to stop putting so much pressure on trying to be “perfect” or trying to create perfection when it comes to yourself, your life, and your business. It makes everything so much harder than it truly should be and you’ll free up a heck of a lot of hours in which you could be doing more productive things.

Think of things this way …
If we believe to be “perfect” then how will we ever learn from the mistakes if we’re not making a strong effort to grow as an individual?

Personally, I would do well to heed this advice. I often spend massive amounts of time trying to get things done “just right”, as I am a terrible overachiever. Everything must always be double, triple and sometimes even quadruple checked before I can safely approve it, check it off my to-do list or pass it along to a client. I feel it borders on obsessive-compulsion from time to time. But that’s just how I am. I always want to put out the best quality of work no matter what I do. But that’s not perfectionism, that’s being a virtual high achiever.

So, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of good in your life! For your sake, and for those around you. Because nothing is ever perfect. And in all reality, it’s probably already amazing, you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself!


Let the digital “untangling” BEGIN … Just pop in your earbuds and hop onto one of your favourite channels by clicking any of the links below!


You can also find The Digital Glue Podcast HERE on our website, or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

Like this blog post?

If you found today’s blog post to be exactly the type of inspiration and know-how you were looking for, we would be very grateful if you would help this post spread
by sharing the
LOVE 💙 with it socially, emailing it to a friend or dropping us a comment with your thoughts. You never know whose life you might change.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest
Picture of Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal is an artist, a writer, an organizer, a dreamer, a doer, and down-right proud of it NERD!.

Struck with a love for #AllThings creative at a very young age, Crystal dreamed of a life fueled by her passion for creating and bringing the stories and images in her mind into reality.

As she worked toward her dreams, she earned a diploma as a Computer Applications Specialist then another in Graphic Design and from there began to develop her extensive background in multimedia and the arts. She began her worked in the magazine industry as a layout designer and had a succession of design jobs thereafter. It was her role as a graphic/web designer that gave her the first real glimpse of her future. Soon she began a side job as a freelance designer while keeping one foot in the corporate world. A spark was lit! She turned her freelance gig into a full-time business combining design work with her other passion: creating organization from virtual chaos.

Crystal is one of the most organized individuals on the planet. She is by all means a Zen master of her crafts. She excels at helping others become “untangled” and provides her clients with tools to run their businesses smoothly while she takes care of the details behind the scenes. Thus Virtually Untangled was born. A successful business where her work as a top notch creative in graphic and web — with a twist of virtual assistant — married into one amazing place where clients can come with their virtual messes and become magically untangled. Crystal can always make sense of even the most unorganized chaos and offers a virtual detox of order and peace, so her clients can get busy doing the work that they love the most.

Leave a comment