Five Ways to Loosen the Grip of Perfectionism

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Episode Details

Today we’re diving into something many of us as lawyers struggle with: perfectionism. 

Perfectionism and I have a long history. It’s in my DNA.

As a lawyer, perfectionism looks like agonizing over every word in a pleading because there’s got to be one perfect way to say what I want to say. Then it’s beating myself up for not having those ‘perfect’ words roll off my fingertips. Once I’ve finally got something down on paper, this process continues as I review the draft dozens upon dozens of times. It’s beyond a review for clarity and typos. It turns into this monster of doubt and self-criticism. The same thing happens with emails sometimes, especially if they are to another attorney who hasn’t been shy about vocalizing their criticism. It even comes up when I’m not lawyering but marketing the business. I second-guess my website content, social posts, and even silly TikTok videos because I think they aren’t quite perfect. 

It’s exhausting. 

I recognize how perfectionism has served me well. There are positives that make me – and many of us – good at our jobs and have gotten us to where we are. For example, being detail-oriented allows us to issue-spot and make nuanced, tactical arguments. It helps us manage a client’s matter and categorize different aspects of a case into an organized approach. Many times cases can hinge on a single detail. Or there may be one opportunity to actually make the case. It’s not often we get several bites at the apple, so to advocate for our clients in the strongest way, we have to show up and present at a very high level when it matters most. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to do this and in many ways, the commitment to an exceptional standard helps us get there. 

As the years have gone by, though, I’ve seen how much perfectionism robs me of energy, truly celebrating wins, and keeping a healthy perspective. At a certain point, it just isn’t worth the stress it causes. That is when I looked for ways to make a change.

In this episode, I share the practical, hands-on ways I’ve loosened the grip of perfectionism, including creating a mantra, leaning into gratitude, starting a hobby, and a book recommendation.

Listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode Resources

Enneagram Institute

Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016 by Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (#476)

The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy