30 tools + resources for online creatives struggling with perfectionism in their business
Dealing with my perfectionism has been a lifelong struggle for me.
As a kid I loved going to school. I was an A+ student and was praised for it. All through school and college I proudly called myself a perfectionist. I was convinced that my habit of perfectionism got me the good school results I got.
Up until I entered the workplace that is.
What I found was that corporate culture appreciates speed over diligence, quantity over quality, and group work in project teams over solo work. Needless to say, I was miserable. My perfectionism didn’t help me anymore. In fact, looking back, it had never helped me.
During my college years, my fellow students only saw the perfectionist shield I had put up. It stopped me from making authentic connections and friendships.
And it also stopped me from and starting, and then growing, the business I truly wanted, serving the clients I truly wanted to work with, because of perfectionism-induced overwhelm, self-doubt + imposter syndrome.
I quickly realized I had to let go of my perfectionism, which I did. (And I can help you do the same.)
These tools + resources have helped me out tremendously along the way.
Books for overcoming perfectionism
As a complete and utter book-oholic, I’ve found these 3 books to be really helpful in my journey of ditching perfect.
SHAUNA NIEQUIST - PRESENT OVER PERFECT: LEAVING BEHIND FRANTIC FOR A SIMPLER, MORE SOULFUL WAY OF LIVING
The title of Shauna Niequist’s book says it all: ‘Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living’. If you’re done with the hustle of perfectionism and are tired of feeling like you’re not enough or doing enough, then is THE book for you.
Shauna shares - with honesty and vulnerability - how her perfectionism resulted in her hitting rock bottom. This book offers great advice about an entire new way to live: soaked in meaning, connection, and grace instead of constantly pushing for perfection.
I bought this book based on the title alone. This was my first book by Shauna Niequist, so I had no idea she’s a Christian writer. Her Christian beliefs play a large role in Present over Perfect and the advice in this book is rooted in faith. I just wanted to give you a heads up about this.
BRENÉ BROWN - THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION: LET GO OF WHO YOU THINK YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE AND EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE
Brené Brown is my spirit animal. Period. The Gifts of Imperfection is the book that set me out on my journey of letting go of my perfectionism. Reading this book shaped my understanding of what perfectionism really is and how it affected me in a negative. I had several aha-moments.
Brené is a scientist and teacher and it shows. The guideposts to wholehearted living (one of which is to let go of perfect) were developed from over 10-years worth of scientific research. If you want to get a better understanding of your perfectionism, this book is a must-read.
TAL BEN-SHAHAR, PH.D. - THE PURSUIT OF PERFECT: STOP CHASING PERFECTION AND FIND YOUR PATH TO LASTING HAPPINESS!
Just like The Gifts of Imperfection this book is highly scientific. But what makes The Pursuit of Perfect so accessible and relatable is that Tal is open about his own history with perfectionism and how it negatively impacted his success and happiness.
The first part of this book is definitely better than the second part. I feel that Tal, a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, went off on a few tangents toward the end of the book. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are great nuggets of wisdom and actionable strategies in this book to help you overcome perfectionism.
Looking for more books about overcoming perfectionism? Right over here, my friend.
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Podcasts that help ditch perfect
Next up, podcasts! These 3 are my favorite, must-listen podcasts for online creatives and (recovering) perfectionists.
Bonus points: they make my commute to and from work a lot more bearable.
This podcast has quickly become my one of my favorites. I feel like Meg from That Hummingbird Life and I should be BFF’s. I so relate to Meg's story about being a perfectionist and a people pleaser and that those things left her disillusioned and unhappy.
Couragemakers is such a great podcast because it tells stories. Real, vulnerable stories about what it means to be courageous. Meg is an excellent interviewer and she goes beyond the surface of superficial, stripped-down versions of events in search of deeper truths.
THE SARAH R. BAGLEY PODCAST
This one’s for my fellow recovering perfectionists out there!
The Sarah R. Bagley Podcast was one of the first podcasts I started listening to almost a year ago and it got me hooked. Listening to all these fabulous women sharing their stories of perfectionism, how it shows up in their life, and how they deal with their perfectionism has been eye-opening for me.
Sarah is just so kind and encouraging. The question she asks at the end of each podcast (“What does living a B+ life mean to you?”) has got me thinking about what B+ means to me.
MAGIC LESSONS WITH ELIZABETH GILBERT
The last one on my list is Magic Lessons, a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Magic Lessons started a few weeks before the release of Elizabeth’s latest book Big Magic and it has a limited number of episodes. But… each and every single one of these episodes is a masterpieces. Elizabeth helps out struggling creatives with such wisdom, compassion, and empathy. Anyone can relate to the advice Elizabeth shares and it has helped me tremendously.
Want more? I share even more of my favorite podcasts in this post.
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Apps that help manage perfectionism
I don’t know about you but my perfectionism shows up at the most inconvenient times or when I’m doing the smallest, most random tasks. A few minutes ago, I triple spell-checked the most basic email before sending it and then afterwards I went to my Sent folder to quadruple check if my spelling and tone really was okay.
What if there’s a way to stop yourself from going down the spell-checking rabbit hole? Because, as a perfectionist, you need all the help you can get in dealing with your perfectionism, right?!
Let’s be honest, apps are cool and can be extremely helpful. I know it’s a pain to scroll through a long list of every available app out there, so I’ve rounded up the 5 most effective apps for dealing with perfectionism.
You might not realize it, but the anxious, stressed-out feeling of perfectionism affects you physically. It causes shallow breathing, a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat, and/or tightness in your shoulders, neck, and jaw.
As soon as you recognize these physical symptoms, it’s important to make a conscious effort to loosen up. I’ve found the app Calm to be super useful to help me breathe and relax.
Calm offers a visual exercise to help you breathe deeply. It also has several meditation exercises and a program to help you sleep better.
For me personally, the breathing exercise is extremely helpful. After only a few deep breaths I find myself easing up, both mentally + physically.
Noisli is my favorite app to drown out the voice of my inner perfectionist. I don’t know about you but I struggle most with my inner perfectionist when I try to work in a completely quiet environment. A little bit of background ‘noise’ always helps.
With Noisli you can adjust the settings to play any background sound that you want, like the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop or rainy day weather or the chirping of birds. You can mix and match the sounds to create the perfect work environment to keep the voice of your inner perfectionist at bay.
One of the biggest ways perfectionism stands in the way of my success is through overwhelm and procrastination. What was once a project I was excited about, quickly turns into procrastination because my perfectionism focuses on every risk, obstacle + teeny-tiny detail associated with that project. Instead of taking the first step, any step that requires action, perfectionism has me stuck in inaction.
When you’re staring at a giant, overwhelming pile of to-do’s and you have no idea where to start, take a step back and create a plan for that project. I use Trello to plan out my projects and tasks. Seeing everything there’s to do written out and planned out with deadlines to match, makes me realize that all of the obstacles I had imagined are just figments of my perfectionist imagination.
Trello is my favorite app to help me combat overwhelm + prevent procrastination, but there are similar apps out there, like Evernote, Google Calendar, and Asana.
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Blogs about perfectionism
Overcoming your perfectionism is not easy. At all.
It’s a coping mechanism you’ve been carrying around for so many years and very few people really GET what it’s like to be stuck in perfectionism.
It’s no wonder that many of us recovering perfectionists feel like letting go of perfectionism is a lonely experience. I know I have felt very much alone in my journey.
But there are people who DO get it. People who have gone through the same things you’re going through now. People who share their stories, experiences + strategies over on their blogs.
These 5 blogs are absolute must-reads for every perfectionist out there.
Ashley and Jenna, the lovely ladies behind Eff Perfect, ask the question every perfectionist needs to hear: “What if your worth were unconditional?”
These ladies are on a mission to inspire and empower women to love themselves wholeheartedly, regardless of imperfections. Through their blog and podcast, they give the middle finger to perfection and they won’t give up until you break the cycle of dependence on external approval and are free from the paralysis of perfectionism.
Sam Laura Brown
Sam Laura Brown is a personal growth and lifestyle blog designed to help you become your best self. When she couldn’t find any blogs she could relate to, Sam decided to start her own blog as an outlet for her personal development obsession.
Sam is very open about her perfectionism and she shares many stories about her struggles with being a perfectionist and procrastinator, along with helpful tips and strategies to get out of your own way and get over perfectionism and procrastination.
The Imperfect Life
The Imperfect Life® is your quarter-life thrive guide and a powerful movement celebrating imperfection. Kerry helps you say no to the pressure to tick certain boxes and start listening to your own, most powerful instincts instead.
I love this blog’s mission of helping you become a pro at hunting imperfection instead of pursuing perfection. It’s about celebrating your flaws and not trying to hide them.
AND OF COURSE…
Hey, that’s me! I'm here to help online creatives ditch perfect + take action on their big business ideas.
When I’m not dishing out inspiring words or geeking out over slow living + slow business (learn more about my Ditch Perfect journey here), my gratitude practice, and homemade pizza, you can find me hanging out on the beach or driving around in my bright red convertible car.
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A little while ago I shared a post here #ontheblog with 20 anti-perfectionism affirmations to help you ditch perfect in your creative business.
I highly recommend checking out that blog post, but for this ultimate resource guide I listed my 5 favorite affirmations below.
1. I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.
2. I am confident. I am capable. I am poised. I am strong.
3. You are more than enough and exactly where you need to be right now.
4. Today will be what it is. I will be who I am. And there will be beauty in both.
5. It doesn't have to be perfect to be powerful.
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I’ve also previously shared a blog post called “30 motivating quotes to help you overcome perfectionism in your business”.
I’d love for you to check out that post and save the quotes that resonated with you to Pinterest or share them on Instagram or Facebook.
For now, I’ve managed to bring it down (so tough!) to my 5 favorite perfectionism-busting quotes.
1. “The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.” - David Bayles
2. “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” - George Orwell
3. "We can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved." - Glennon Doyle Melton
4. "Perfectionism is internalized oppression." - Gloria Steinem
5. “When things are perfect, that's when you need to worry most.” - Drew Barrymore
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Inspiring TED talks
I love coming up with new ways and different tools to help you let go of perfectionism and I’m grateful that I can do what I love everyday, but there are days when I feel less inspired.
When that happens, I find it useful to look outside for inspiration. A good, inspiring TED talk never fails to lift my soul and leave me feeling energized and motivated.
These 5 TED talks will - hopefully - inspire you in your journey of overcoming perfectionism as much as it did for me.
By Cheryl Hunter
Cheryl Hunter comes at her work with a multi-pronged approach, having merged seemingly-divergent careers around one idea: that a simple story, well told and presented, has tremendous potential to educate, entertain and impact people. Cheryl shared a personal story about having been abducted as a teenager, and asked, "Why is it that we obsess over the things we can't change, rather than the things we can?"
By Karen Thompson Walker
Imagine you're a shipwrecked sailor adrift in the enormous Pacific. You can choose one of three directions and save yourself and your shipmates -- but each choice comes with a fearful consequence too. How do you choose? In telling the story of the whaleship Essex, novelist Karen Thompson Walker shows how fear propels imagination, as it forces us to imagine the possible futures and how to cope with them.
By Heather Lanier
Heather Lanier's daughter Fiona has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic condition that results in developmental delays -- but that doesn't make her tragic, angelic or any of the other stereotypes about kids like her. In this talk about the beautiful, complicated, joyful and hard journey of raising a rare girl, Lanier questions our assumptions about what makes a life "good" or "bad," challenging us to stop fixating on solutions for whatever we deem not normal, and instead to take life as it comes.
By Reshma Saujani
We're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave, says Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. Saujani has taken up the charge to socialize young girls to take risks and learn to program -- two skills they need to move society forward. To truly innovate, we cannot leave behind half of our population, she says. "I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection."
By Geoff Watts
In this talk, Geoff Watts shares his insights onto the effects of the double-edged sword of perfectionism on our creative aspirations. He advocates a balancing of perfectionism, so that we may strive for excellence, without being unfair to ourselves.
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Relatable Instagram accounts
During my many hours scrolling down the Instagram rabbit hole (I know, I know… #procrastinationfail), I’ve found 4 relatable + inspiring accounts that share what it’s really like to let go of the hustle of perfectionism. Enjoy!
Caroline helps soulful creatives live and work as their best, brightest selves. She’s passionate about working to live rather than living to work. As a self-made artist, she embraces messiness and imperfection to create her gorgeous abstract affirmations. Also, Caroline’s art process videos are a must-watch.
Molly helps women share their story in an authentic way, because your story matters. Molly Ho Studio is a brand and graphic design studio for the soul searchers, the dreamers, the storytellers, the believers, the doers who want to dig deep, feel more aligned + go beyond the surface level stuff. Get ready to feel inspired about topics like body positivity, imposter syndrome, and feeling not good enough.
Jenna is a true multi-passionate. She’s a photographer, watercolor artist, online marketing educator, and host of the Goal Digger Podcast. A recent Instagram post from this body positive babe went absolutely viral. Looking for encouraging soul talk? Then Jenna’s your gal!
Talking about encouraging soul talk... Elise and Scott use words that pack a punch. They embody the spirit of redefining success and building contagiously happy lives and businesses on their own terms.
AND OF COURSE…
I have to give myself a shoutout, too! Over on the ol’ Insta I empower online creatives to #ditchperfect + finally make big things happen in their creative business. My approach is a mix of encouragement + real talk, your biggest cheerleader on the sidelines + your accountability buddy along the way.
Are you stuck in perfectionism and need little help letting go of the perfectionist tendencies that are holding you back? Then make sure to download your FREE copy of my perfectionism-busting workbook.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TOOL OR RESOURCE THAT HAS HELPED YOU UNDERSTAND OR DEAL WITH YOUR PERFECTIONISM?
Hey, Wendy here!
As a perfectionism coach, I help online creatives #ditchperfect, overcome their perfectionism + take action on the big ideas they have for their business. Let’s work together and make those ideas happen.