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Overcoming Perfectionism: How to stop letting your fear of failure hold you back!

What people want is to walk into the room feeling like an impostor and to walk out of the room not feeling like an impostor.

That’s not how it works. In fact, feelings are the last to change.

So now, before I even get to the solutions, I make sure my audience understands that people who don’t feel like impostors are no more intelligent or capable than the rest of us.

The only difference between them and us is that during that same situation that triggers an impostor feeling in us, they think different thoughts. That’s it, folks.

Which is really good news — because it means all we have to do is learn to think like a non-impostor.

And because impostor feelings are indeed the last to change, today I make sure everyone understands that…


The only way to stop feeling like an impostor is to stop thinking like an impostor.


The Perfectionist

If you’re a perfectionist your primary focus is on “how” something is done. This includes how the work is conducted and how it turns out. One minor flaw in an otherwise stellar performance or 99 out of 100 equals failure. This causes shame.

The Expert

The expert is the knowledge version of the Perfectionist. Here, the primary concern is on “what” and “how much” you know or can do. Because you expect to know everything, even a minor lack of knowledge denotes failure and shame.

The Soloist

A Soloist cares mostly about “who” completes the task. To make it on the achievement list, it has to be you and you alone. Because you think you need to do and figure out everything on your own, needing help is a sign of failure that evokes shame.

The Natural Genius

A Natural Genius also care about “how” and “when” accomplishments happen. But for you, competence is measured in terms of ease and speed. The fact that you have to struggle to master a subject or skill or that you’re not able to bang out your masterpiece on the first try equals failure which evokes shame.

The Superwoman/Superman/Super Student

The Supers measure competence based on “how many” roles they can both juggle and excel in. Falling short in any role — as a parent, partner, on the home-front, host/hostess, friend, volunteer — all evoke shame because they feel they

How to Manage Imposter Syndrome

1. Break the silence. Shame keeps a lot of people from “fessing up” about their fraudulent feelings. Knowing there’s a name for these feelings and that you are not alone can be tremendously freeing.

2. Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.

3. Recognize when you should feel fraudulent. A sense of belonging fosters confidence. If you’re the only or one of a few people in a meeting, classroom, field, or workplace who look or sound like you or are much older or younger, then it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Plus if you’re the first woman, people of color, or person with a disability to achieve something in your world, e.g. first VP, astronaut, judge, supervisor, firefighter, honoree, etc. there’s that added pressure to represent your entire group. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence.

4. Accentuate the positive. The good news is being a perfectionist means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t persevere over routine tasks and forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens.

5. Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake making. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Instead of beating yourself up for falling short, do what players on the losing sports team do and glean the learning value from the loss and move on reminding yourself, “I’ll get ’em next time.”

6. Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance.

7. Develop a new script. Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script. Then instead of thinking, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” tell yourself “Everyone who starts something new feels off-base in the beginning. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.” Instead of looking around the room and thinking, “Oh my God everyone here is brilliant…. and I’m not” go with “Wow, everyone here is brilliant – I’m really going to learn a lot!”

8. Visualize success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress.

9. Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking °© and then dismissing °© validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back.

10. Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build.

POSSIBILITIES/interview (great content)




possibilities (plural noun)

  1. a thing that may happen or be the case. "there was always the possibility that he might be turned down" ·

  2. the state or fact of being likely or possible; likelihood. "there was no possibility of recompense for him"

  3. a thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives. "one possibility is to allow all firms to participate" · (possibilities)

  4. unspecified qualities of a promising nature; potential. "the house was old but it had possibilities"

Whether you think you can or think you can't – you're right.

Henry Ford

1. What did you think about this week's topic and its suggestions in helping people live a more purposeful and intentional life?

Whatever you believe will be your truth.

Our personal narratives dictate what we are willing to see as possibilities and options for our lives.

To live more intentionally, we need to keep a close eye on what that narrative is believing so that you can thrive with SO many possibilities in your life. No matter what age, circumstances, etc.

2. How have you experienced this topic play out in your life (is it working or not working)

For me, I tend to think that everything is possible! Where I get stuck is with execution. That is when the “how” kicks in, barriers pop up and the solution gets fuzzy. Then we circle back in my brain to it NOT being possible. It is a crazy cycle at times!

3. What advice do you give yourself and others concerning this topic?

  • The most important – change your language – inside and out. F

  • or example, instead of saying or thinking “I can’t afford this” (focusing on the obstacles), turn it around and ask “How can I afford this?”(changing your focus to the possibilities). Instead of SPENDING and remaining stuck, you can now INVEST your energy on planning how to move ahead.

  • When you notice you are focused on what you don’t want, take a deep breath and bring your focus back around to the positive of the results you want.

  • Before you do anything, go into any situation, have a discussion, or make a plan, take a moment to consider the positive results you want, INVEST your energy and focus on that.

  • As you begin to plan greater joy into areas of your life, choose the results you want and INVEST your focus on them and plan how you will achieve it.

  • Emotional energy is emotional energy: where do you want to spend yours?


Tip #1: Know what your narrative is saying - the truth, not the ideal. Until your personal narrative is in check, dreaming big of possibilities will be challenging. Not impossible - but challenging.

Storytelling is a powerful communication tool, yet its ability to influence perceptions and behaviors isn't often fully utilized.

Tip #2: Focus on What You Can Control vs. What You Cannot

Draw a rectangle on a sheet of paper. Inside the box, have them write the things they have a great deal of control over; outside the box, list the things they can't control. Encourage them to focus their energy on addressing only the items inside the box.

This simple visual is a quick and easy way to help them choose the most likely avenues to success.

Tip #3: Develop a Clear Picture of the Desired Outcome

When you treat the resulting picture as your collective touchstone, referring to it when making decisions and taking actions, employees will search for opportunities to make it a reality instead of seeing obstacles to its achievement.

Tip #4: Jettison the Baggage

Because people see the world through filters colored by their life experiences, negative emotions cloud their view, with dysfunctional results. To jettison that unwanted baggage, hold a pity party. Identify one negative emotion (such as anger, pity or resentment), set a timer for 10 minutes and tell employees to feel just as sorry for themselves or angry or resentful as they possibly can during that time; don't hold back.

When the timer goes off, the party's over and they must move forward. Repeat as necessary.

This technique works because it both acknowledges and honors the negative feelings and it allows individuals to release them and move forward. Unimpeded by anger, resentment or other negative emotions, they can look beyond challenges and see possibilities.

Tip #6: Choose: Victimhood or Healthy Options

People have choices about how to experience any situation: as a victim or in a healthy way. Those who choose victimhood look for obstacles, whereas those who choose healthy options (such as to influence the situation, accept it or remove themselves from it) seek opportunities.

By letting your individuals know that victimhood is a conscious choice for which there are healthy alternatives, you'll free them to search for possibilities instead of seeing life as a series of problems to be overcome.

Inner Critic Exercise/INFO

We can all occasionally be too harsh and mean to ourselves, and there is nothing wrong in that. However, if you are too mean to yourself and it affects your wellbeing or your health, then it is useful and important to deal with your inner critic. Below you’ll find an exercise that helps you to become aware of how you treat yourself, how this affects you, and perhaps even to start getting a better relationship with yourself.

Find a sheet and draw a long line in the middle of the sheet from top to bottom. On the left part you write down what your inner critic says and does, and on the right section you write down how this affects you. Remember that both parts are parts of yourself and that none of the parts are meant to disappear. The point is to become more aware and perhaps develop a better relationship between those parts. (Or, download the attached grid!). If you download and complete the form on your computer, remember to save it securely.

In this exercise, we’ve put in examples, but it’s important that you use your own words and experiences. The exercise can be done several times and you will notice that there may be several things that you criticize yourself for. As a critic, you are trying to get to the painful messages you say to yourself. Feel free to be specific and come with examples that reinforce the criticism. As the recipient of the criticism, you should try to feel what it is like to hear this. Use “you” language as the critic and “I” language as the criticized part.

1. What is your critic saying to you?

  • Try to become your inner critic for a little while. Write down (on the left side) what you say to yourself. Try to be as specific as possible. Feel free to add specific memories or episodes that “affirm” the criticism. Don’t be afraid to be honest with what you say to yourself. You are already living with this message on the inside.

  • “You are a useless person!” Nobody likes you! You’re not interesting. Just as you experienced in middle school, when the others in your class wouldn’t hang out with you.”

2. What does it feel like to hear this?

  • Read the message from the critic aloud. Notice how it feels in your body at the same time as you read it. What does it feel like to receive this message? Write it down.

  • “I feel beaten down and flat when you say that. I feel ashamed, stupid and small, as if nobody likes me. It makes me so small that I can’t look anyone in the eyes. It is destroying me.”

3. What do you need the critic to do or not do?

  • Notice what it’s like to be criticized in this manner. Ask yourself what you need from your critic. Try to put words to what you really need to hear. Write it down.

  • “I need you to not say the same things that my classmates told me. I need you to be on my team and show me understanding, cheering me forward. I need you to say I am good enough.

4. How does it feel to ask for what you need?

  • Read the words aloud, and tell the critic what you need. Notice what it feels like to ask for this. If you notice it feels good to ask for it, then keep asking for it a few times more.

  • “It feels invigorating. A little less awful. “

5. As your inner critic, how is it for you to hear this?

  • As your inner critic, what do you want to say back? Is it a little bit painful to treat yourself so badly? What have you actually tried to achieve for the part you criticize? Have you tried to help him/her? Is there something very important you are afraid that happens if you do not criticize? Notice what you feel towards the part that is being criticised. Do you feel guilt, caring or compassion towards the criticised part of yourself? Can you meet the need the other asks to get covered? Try to put words to this and show understanding for the other. If it feels right, apologize and say what you will try to do differently.

  • If you just feel like criticizing more, go back to step 1 again and continue from there.

  • “I hear what you’re saying and I agree. I don’t want you to feel awful. At the same time, I worry that you won’t achieve what you want to achieve. I am also worried that you should feel like you did in school. You have to show yourself a little more acceptance, stand up for yourself. I’m going to try to be less critical and more gentle.”

6. How does it feel to receive this?

  • Read out loud what the critic is communicating. Notice how it feels in your body to be met this way. Feel free to tell your critic how it feels. Remind yourself of what is important and good about this. If it is very difficult to do this exercise you can summarize for yourself what is going on and where the process stops. It may be helpful to do the exercise again on later occasions. Perhaps it is easier when you are in a self-critical period or state.

7. How do you want to take this with you going forward?

  • Read through the different steps. Make a decision about how you will use this going forward in your life: Do you want to change something? Do you want to commit to something? Do you want to seek the help of others? Write down what you want to do.



Burnout is on the rise.

52% of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who said the same in Indeed's pre-Covid-19 survey.

53% percent of Millennials were already burned out pre-pandemic, and they remain the most affected population, with 59% experiencing it today.

Even those passionate about their jobs are still stressed at work with 64% saying they are frequently stressed at work.

This same survey found that nearly 70% of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout.

25% of these surveyed did not use all of their vacation time on a yearly basis.

While many workers feel they are more productive working from home, others are starting to get stir crazy. Often remote workers feel trapped at home during the pandemic.

The risk of burnout while working at home all day every day is rising.

Many who are experiencing remote work for the first time over the past year have difficulty separating home life from work.

Instead of just having work pressure to deal with many also have kids at home and their spouses during working hours. Which can cause interruptions, delays, and increased stress. This leads to work life and home life becoming more intertwined resulting in remote work burnout.

Burnout can affect anyone, at any time in their lives. However, a recent study has shown that the average professional experiences burnout by the age of 32. As with any illness, symptoms of burnout change from person to person, however we have identified that the following five stages are commonly observed:



When we undertake a new task, we often start by experiencing high job satisfaction, commitment, energy, and creativity. This is especially true of a new job role, or the beginnings of a business venture. In this first phase of burnout, you may begin to experience predicted stresses of the initiative you’re undertaking, so it’s important to start implementing positive coping strategies, such as taking practical steps to support your wellbeing alongside your professional ventures.

The theory is that if we create good coping strategies at this stage, we can continue in the honeymoon phase indefinitely.

Common symptoms include:

  • Job satisfaction

  • Readily accepting responsibility

  • Sustained energy levels

  • Unbridled optimism

  • Commitment to the job at hand

  • Compulsion to prove oneself

  • Free-flowing creativity

  • High productivity levels


The second stage of burnout begins with an awareness of some days being more difficult than others. You may find your optimism waning, as well as notice common stress symptoms affecting you physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Common symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Inability to focus

  • Irritability

  • Job dissatisfaction

  • Lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality

  • Lack of social interaction

  • Lower productivity

  • Unusual heart rhythms

  • Anxiety

  • Avoidance of decision making

  • Change in appetite or diet

  • Fatigue

  • Forgetfulness

  • General neglect of personal needs

  • Grinding your teeth at night

  • Headaches

  • Heart palpitations


The third stage of burnout is chronic stress. This is a marked change in your stress levels, going from motivation, to experiencing stress on an incredibly frequent basis. You may also experience more intense symptoms than those of stage two.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of hobbies

  • Missed work deadlines and/or targets

  • Persistent tiredness in the mornings

  • Physical illness

  • Procrastination at work and at home

  • Repeated lateness for work

  • Resentfulness

  • Social withdrawal from friends and/or family

  • Uptake of escapist activities

  • Anger or aggressive behaviour

  • Apathy

  • Chronic exhaustion

  • Cynical attitude

  • Decreased sexual desire

  • Denial of problems at work or at home

  • Feeling threatened or panicked

  • Feeling pressured or out of control

  • Increased alcohol/drug consumption

  • Increased caffeine consumption


Entering stage four is burnout itself, where symptoms become critical. Continuing as normal is often not possible in this state as it becomes increasingly difficult to cope. We all have our own unique limits of tolerance, and it’s key that you seek intervention at this stage

Common symptoms include:

  • Development of an escapist mentality

  • Feeling empty inside

  • Obsession over problems at work or in life

  • Pessimistic outlook on work and life

  • Physical symptoms intensify and/or increase

  • Self-doubt

  • Social isolation

  • Behavioural changes

  • Chronic headaches

  • Chronic stomach or bowel problems

  • Complete neglect of personal needs

  • Continuation or increase in escapist activities

  • Desire to "drop out" of society

  • Desire to move away from work or friends/family


The final stage of burnout is habitual burnout. This means that the symptoms of burnout are so embedded in your life that you are likely to experience a significant ongoing mental, physical or emotional problem, as opposed to occasionally experiencing stress or burnout.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic sadness

  • Depression

  • Burnout syndrome

  • Chronic mental fatigue

  • Chronic physical fatigue


How to prevent burnout from affecting you

While burnout can cause issues at work, at home, and life in general, it is always possible to take action and move towards Stage 1. Even if you are not experiencing stress or burnout now, we suggest the wisest course of action is to proactively take up self-care practices and build your mental resilience.

Take Relaxation Seriously

Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you'll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life

Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that's challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to "turn off" and participating in rewarding non-work activities).


While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

Get Enough Sleep

Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We've seen that sleep can actually improve your memory.

Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, check out our tips to get better sleep.

Get Organized

Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.

Stay Attuned/AWARE

It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.

Know When It's You, and When It's Them

Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, Dr. Ballard says, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you'll need to ask yourself, "Where is this coming from?" so you can figure out what's stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.

Some burnout really is the fault of work. "In a survey we did in 2011, more than two-thirds of respondents said that their employers had taken steps to cut costs as a result of the recession," like hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours, rolling back benefits, requiring unpaid days off, increasing hours, etc. All that increases demands on workers," he says. "Those are the two components that play into burnout: There are more demands and fewer resources." To find out whether it's time to move on, figure out whether your position is a "mismatch between your needs and what you're getting working for that particular organization."

Figure Out When Enough Is Enough

Consider talking to your manager or HR about EAP services, mental health benefits or stress management training—or at least about how to improve communication and create a better, more positive work environment. Angle the conversation about how those cultural shifts will enable you to continue to serve the company and become an even better employee.

"I do think there are times when, no matter what you try to do, the organization is unable or unwilling to make those changes," Dr. Ballard says, "and in those cases, it is just time to move on."






To start, try these tips:

  • Prioritize. Some things just have to get done, but others can wait until you have more time and energy. Decide which tasks are less important and set them aside.

  • Delegate. You can’t do everything yourself, so if more tasks than you can handle need immediate attention, pass them off to someone you trust.

  • Leave work at work. Part of burnout recovery is learning to prioritize work-life balance. After leaving work, focus on relaxing and recharging for the next day.

  • Be firm about your needs. Talk to others involved and let them know what’s happening. Explain that you need some support in order to take care of your health and manage your workload productively.





The exact reasons for burnout are always very personal and specific to an individual’s situation and personality. Being a high achiever is stressful for most people — some research suggests that you can be more at risk due to being passionate about your work and operating under high uncertainty.

Accepting that body and mind are not separate: chronic stress affects both your brain and your body — for me it had raised my cortisol levels and generally pushed my body balance completely out of whack. I had to work on my interoception because not listening to my brain’s representation of sensations from my body meant I wasn’t aware when I was using up my body budget.

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