Perfectionism – Combat it for better performance in a brain-healthy way.

Several people I know consider having high standards to be a positive trait. 

Striving for perfection may demonstrate your work ethic and moral strength, and high expectations might also motivate you to perform at your best. Athletes, for example, train long and hard to achieve greatness in their sports – the 1% daily improvement count.

Perfectionists can think that anything less than perfection isn’t significant, and why do something if you are not going to do it well (the best you can)? Otherwise, it is just a waste of time and effort. Getting things right is essential to perfectionists, and their identity is typically tied to the quality of work delivered. 

Personally, being a high finisher (perfectionist) is a trait I relied on for career success for many years in my corporate career. However, I reached a capacity limit and faced burnout which led to illness and exhaustion and feeling like a failure.

Step 1: The first step is to acknowledge perfectionism.

A critical first step in determining whether you have a perfectionism problem. Remember that while having high expectations is admirable, having them too high may be detrimental to your work/life / healthy well-being, relationships, and overall happiness of life. It could hold you back from missed career opportunities that may be more valuable.

Step 2: Self-talk

Self-affirmation engages brain circuits connected with self-processing and reward. When self-competence is endangered, self-affirmations can help restore it by allowing people to reflect on sources of self-worth, such as essential values. 


‘I am free to be my best self, even though I make mistakes. Mistakes are a gift because they help me learn, grow, change, and adapt.

‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough’.

Step 3: Priorities work projects based on the desired outcomes of importance

Clarify with your leader the priorities based on outcomes and how they match the company’s purpose and your role.
Have regular and open discussions to ensure you put energy into suitable projects and agree on timeframes.

Attention is a limited resource – your time and effort matter.


For more tips and strategies, reach out for a chat and see how we can use neuroscience to improve your business outcomes.