Are you someone who often has trouble with things like starting new projects, or making decisions? Do you believe that everything has to be perfect before you can share it with the world? Do you feel like you can never trip up? Perhaps you suffer from perfectionism, and this is a real thing, which is crippling for all those who experience it. 

If you suffer with perfectionism, just know that it is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can drive you to do your best work and achieve great results, but on the other hand, it can be paralysing, leading to procrastination and anxiety. It can help you achieve your goals, but it can also interfere with your success. Therefore perfectionism is not always helpful and it can prevent you from taking risks and reaching your full potential in life. 

In this episode, we discuss how perfectionism can become a problem, especially when we start to set impossible goals that are totally unattainable for ourselves. We help you deal with your expectations around perfectionism, and offer you three ways you can begin to let go of your perfectionism.


In this Episode

1:09 – Introduction

7:42 – Perfectionism and control

11:43 – Just get started

16:20 – Unrealistic goals

20:05 – Conclusion


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hi. It’s Marissa Lee here and I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset, and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best ally. It’s time now, for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:09

Are you someone who often has trouble with things like starting new projects? Or even making decisions? Do you believe that everything has to be just so it has to be perfect before you can share it with the world. Maybe you’re someone who experiences a high level of anxiety and stress because you feel like you must do everything right all of the time. You feel like you can’t trip up not ever. Perhaps you suffer from perfectionism. This is a real thing. And it’s crippling for all those who suffer from it. I used to think I suffered from perfectionism. But I realised I didn’t. I am maybe a perfectionist, who has a certain expectation for what I do, and how I present all aspects of my life and my work and myself to the world. But it doesn’t stop me from moving forward. And it doesn’t paralyse me in any way. It never holds me back. Because at some point, I can let go. And I can do this with no stress or anxiety or fear that it may not be perfect. I heard the most liberating thing a few years ago. And that is that to perfect something, you actually have to be doing the thing you want to perfect. And being a perfectionist can be used as a cop out. Me being that logical thinker. This made so much sense. How can you perfect something if you’re not actually doing the thing? So when I was thinking about launching a podcast, of course, I wanted it all to be perfect because I was putting myself out there big time for the world to critique me and my work. But then those words came back to me that totally resonated with me. And from that moment, I just set a launch date. And I worked as hard as I could to release a product I was proud of. Was it perfect? No. And when I listened back to those early episodes, which you can all go back and listen to, I think to myself, What was I thinking? But if I didn’t start releasing the work, how could I have perfected it? My podcast is still a work in progress. And me and my team are always looking at ways to do things better. And you know, we don’t always get it right. And that’s okay. In this episode, we’re going to discuss how perfectionism becomes a problem, especially when we start to set impossible goals that are totally unattainable. These goals are so high that they can never be reached, and people are left feeling disappointed and frustrated. And you know, there’s a big difference between the tormentor of perfectionism and striving for perfection. When someone is striving for perfection, they strive to do better and to improve in a healthy way. This is by having an open heart and an open mind to learning from their mistakes and striving To make improvement even if it’s in a small, incremental way, whereas someone who suffers from perfectionism sees mistakes as unacceptable, and failure as unacceptable. And this can lead to procrastination, miss deadlines and avoidance of tasks all together, because these people have an unrealistic image of what they should be doing, how they should look, and how their lives should turn out. Enough is never enough. Work is never enough, their lives aren’t enough. Ultimately, they are not enough. This can be so paralysing, if you feel like you’re never good enough, this can be a sign of perfectionism. Perfectionism is especially prevalent in those who experienced childhood trauma, particularly if a child’s parent or caregiver withheld love or affection from them. In that instance, children are likely to develop the belief that they must work so hard by proving themselves to gain love and approval. They have a fear of judgement or disapproval from others, which comes from having parents with unrealistically high expectations. It is a real thing. This all leads to you demanding way more of yourself than necessary. You have this voice that is always pointing out all your own flaws, and perceived weaknesses, and you judge yourself really harshly. It’s believing that to be perfect is to be the best. And you often set unrealistic standards for yourself, which you inevitably fail to meet because guess what, as humans, we aren’t capable of perfection. This feeling can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression over time. And today, we discuss how you can break free from the perfectionism cycle. Because there is hope. We discussed three ways you can break free of your perfectionism shackles and move forward in your own life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:42

People who suffer from perfectionism often have this overwhelming desire for control. Yes, and that can be made. They feel like they need to be in control of everything in their lives. And then they become upset when things don’t go according to how they had planned. Actually, no, that’s not me. I’m all good with that. Because I know there are some things in life, we simply can’t control. Things like illness, natural disasters, some of the problems we have in our relationships, or even being fired from our job because the business we’re working for is not doing so well. All these things are out of our control. And these situations can hit most of us so hard and can derail anyone, irrespective of whether they’re suffering from perfectionism or not. There are so many things that will happen to us in our lifetime, that are completely out of our control. Who could have predicted all the craziness that happened in 2020, when the pandemic hit, and still continues to impact our lives or our economy in one way or another to this day. No one had a clue this was all going to happen. We can’t predict the future and we certainly can’t control the future. We absolutely can’t. So you see in these hard moments in life, when we feel that our world is crumbling around us. We all have to stop and take a breath. We have to realise that having this idea of being some kind of control freak is not going to work and it makes no sense to even try being one. It doesn’t serve us to take on this idea of perfectionism and control. That unrealistic desire to be flawless in some of these unexpected situations can often lead to unhappiness and once again, exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression because it’s also so stressful. Instead, we need to change our mindset and learn to become more open and more adaptable. If we can do that we can learn and grow from these experiences. I look at life’s challenges differently to how I used to. And now I think to myself that this lousy situation that has just happened is an opportunity to evolve and grow as a person. And then when life throws me a heap of challenges all at once, I believe that it is the universe fast tracking my growth. This is so liberating. The truth is, we never know what the future holds. So no point stressing about things that don’t work out how you want them to. Instead, focus on what is going on in your life right now. Focus on becoming your best self in the present moment. So you will be equipped to take on whatever challenges are going to be thrown at you in the future. Be prepared by building yourself up for these challenges. Be sure that no matter what you cherish the present moment, because you’re never going to get it back. You are never going to give yourself the opportunity to experience the joys of the here and now. If you don’t focus on being present and grateful.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:43

Are you prone to delaying what needs to get done? Is there a project you know, you should start you need to get started on but you can’t even push yourself to begin? Or are you someone who when you start something you can never seem to get it finished? No matter what you can’t seem to motivate yourself, even though your inner voice is telling you to get on with it, and it’s screaming at you and you continue to ignore it. Why is this? And to make matters worse, your inner voice begins chastising you because of the procrastination and then the guilt trip starts. Have you ever wondered why this is an issue for you? Well, it has been proven that procrastination is often a symptom of perfectionism. Honestly, don’t beat yourself up, you aren’t lazy, you just can’t get started. procrastinators are notoriously linked to suffering from perfectionism. You’ve heard the expression, do it right or don’t do it at all. Well, oftentimes, when people have issues with perfectionism, they’re opting to not do it at all. Because they hold themselves to these incredibly high standards, expecting nothing but the best from themselves. They are putting such pressure on themselves, they will often procrastinate for fear of being unable to complete a task perfectly. And if they do happen to get started, they become drained from the effort of trying to get everything so perfect that what they are working on comes to an absolute standstill, they just can’t sustain the level of energy they are putting into that job. If this is you, it is time to give yourself the grace you deserve. One way for you to overcome your procrastination and your ideas around perfectionism is to lower your standards, or did I just say that mu? I can hear your screams from here? No, how dare you say that. But the truth is, and I hate to tell you that your standards are above and beyond and you simply don’t realise it. Your sub standard is probably someone else’s masterpiece. So if you lower your standards, you are most likely going to be operating on a normal level compared to everyone else. If you don’t know where to begin to lowering your standards, start with something super easy. Perhaps if you’re like me, you always make your bed every morning. So I’m going to challenge you to not make your bed one morning sharp hora, I promise you, the world won’t implode. Or try posting something on social media without proofreading it or editing it first. I dare you to do that one. I know that’s a big ask. And if you’re like me, you probably read your post over and over before you press post. Once you’ve completed some easy attempts at being imperfect, try moving on to some bigger tasks, and set a timer to completion and let the task go. As the timer goes off, tell yourself, this doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be just good enough. And if you keep doing this, you will find that your procrastination tendencies will slowly slip away. I can assure you that in time, you’re actually going to feel more motivated to start and finish anything you’re working on. You will feel far more accomplished and happier in the future.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:20

Perfectionism refers to behaviours associated with ridiculously high and unrealistic goals. This attitude actually interferes with success. By never allowing yourself a sense of satisfaction for your achievements, you may end up achieving far less than people with more realistic goals. So another way to let go of perfectionism is to set goals that are more achievable and realistic. You will feel way more confident in your ability to reach your goals when they are realistic and challenging, but in a healthy way. It’s great to have big goals to aim for both within your professional and in your personal life. But if the distance between where you’re at right now and your goals is too great, you will find yourself stuck because it’s all too much and you don’t want to begin working towards your goals. This is why you need to take a look at your goals and find ways to break them down into smaller, more manageable bits, especially if you are someone who suffers from perfectionism. Because if you believe that your goals are achievable, it’s going to be way easier for you to get started and you won’t feel the distress and you won’t feel like a failure for not being able to achieve your goals. Be sure that whatever the goal is, make a list of specific tasks necessary to achieve your weekly or monthly milestone and write them in your weekly planner. If your goal is to buy an expensive new car and you need to start saving money. Think about when do you get paid? What day do you plan to put this money aside and make it the same day every week to help you stay on track. Consider all the tasks around the milestone and get into a routine with them. And be sure to prepare everything you need. The key to success is good preparation. Try to anticipate what you need to complete every task from all the practical things to any professional help you need. This will ensure that there are no setbacks. You know, ambitious goals can be inspiring and motivating at first. But they can also be intimidating if we don’t have those smaller steps to make them more achievable. But before you begin breaking down your goals into smaller steps, make sure that they’re well defined. This means that your goals should be as precise as they can be. And you must write them down and put them where you can see them often. To be honest, I keep mine in the bathroom and I have no choice but to look at them. Yep, I think you get the picture. So roll up your sleeves and get started on your goals right away and don’t forget to reward yourself each step of the way.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:05

So, as you can see, perfectionism is a real thing. And it’s not just something that affects the people who suffer from it. It’s a problem that can also impact their loved ones, colleagues and even society at large. They hate me wrong or criticised by others. They take this to a whole new level because they don’t want anyone to think less of them, nor do they want to be seen as flawed in any way. Even though mistakes or missteps are perfectly normal along our journey of life. They’re trying so hard to be perfect all the time. So if you have someone who suffers from perfectionism in your life, my advice is be patient with them. Help them by encouraging rather than being critical when they make mistakes, or fail at something. And if you’re the person with perfectionism, just know that it is a double edged sword. It can help you achieve your goals, but it can also hold you back big time. On one hand, you have the drive to do your best work and achieve great results. On the other hand, it can be paralysing, leading to procrastination and anxiety. So you see, perfectionism is not always helpful. Understand that it can be a hindrance to progress, and it can prevent you from taking risks and reaching your personal and professional potential. And be sure to set realistic goals. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and allow you to focus on making steady progress. Goals are vital to our well being. So goals are good when we set them right. So I’m not saying to hold back, but keep it real and chuck it down. And whatever you do, practice self compassion. Be kind to yourself. recognise that no body is perfect. It’s important to be patient and forgiving of yourself when things don’t go as planned. Embrace imperfection. Instead of striving for perfection. Focus on doing your best and learning from your mistakes. Accept that there is always room for improvement. And that mistakes can be valuable learning opportunities. So stop beating yourself up or feeling guilty when this happens. Look back at all those things that you have achieved in your life and be grateful. Focus on the positives and don’t dwell on the negatives. The most important thing is that you gave it a shot. You didn’t sit in the cheap seats in life you made the move. You rose to the occasion. You stood centre stage in the arena of life and that is something to be so very proud of. You are worthy just as you are. So stop ridiculing yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself and cut yourself a break. It is time to celebrate you just as you are. You are amazing, just as you are. You are worthy. You are worth the effort. Always have been and always will be. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on five clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.