Is your desire to be perfect getting in the way?

image by Son of Groucho

Striving for perfection or perhaps being very precise and exacting can be seen as good traits but like anything else, they can be taken to extreme.

I have been trying to align my spreadsheet budget with an online tool that I use. I knew I was being a bit manic about it because both the spreadsheet and the online tool are intended to be guides to help me visualize my budget and financials more clearly but are not tied to actual accounts. I wanted them to balance exactly though.

Yes, I am one of those who balances checkbooks on a monthly basis and yes, I even check the balances during the month with the online postings to make sure they match. I always thought everyone did things this way because this is the way I was taught. My mom balanced the paper version of her checkbook every month and she taught me to do the same. This was further enforced when I spent four years working in two savings and loans. Balancing was part of what I learned to do there too.

You can take things to an extreme.

These tools that were supposed to help me were starting to make me a little crazy. I do have them perfectly balanced now and that does make me happy but it also took me most of the day and left little time to do the other 30 things on my to-do list.

When you are a job seeker, you want your job search materials to be correct and error-free too but I have seen people agonize over phrasing and words to the extent that it held them back from ever submitting their resume to anyone or moving forward with their career management plan. Those job seekers have let their desire to be perfect get in the way and now they are not confident that they can find a new position.

Demonstrate your confidence

I’ve been learning lots about confidence in the last two years. Jim Connolly taught me how important confidence is in your online presence. When you are confident in your marketing, you will naturally attract the clients you want to your business or service. And, if you display lack of confidence will make prospective clients run in the other direction.

BuddyAmazingly, when we hired a dog trainer to help us with training Buddy, our German Shepherd, I heard Jim’s voice echoing in what the trainer said. She told me that I had to show confidence and leadership.

Tone of voice is critical in training a dog. Despite having Teddy, our other German Shepherd for almost seven years, I am learning strategies and ways to train Buddy that I never knew about.

Lack of confidence when training a dog, especially one with the personality of a German Shepherd, allows them to take charge. As long as the dog thinks he is the leader, you will never get them to do the things you want them to do.

How lack of confidence impacts your job search

When you agonize over all the details, you will get stuck and be unable to move forward. You can’t submit your resume because you have rewritten one sentence six times. You moved all the paragraphs around and you still don’t think it works. When you go into a job search with the right training and strategies suddenly everything will fall into place.

It isn’t any different for a professional. The desire to keep editing is always there. Professional resume writers work to create excellent documents but there is a point when they have to say done and be confident that the project portrays the accomplishments and value-driven stories in a way that will enable the hiring manager to desire to make the call for an interview. You can rewrite a document to death.

If you are spending too much time trying to be perfect, perhaps it is time to be confident and move forward.


  1. Gavin Ryan on November 11, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Hi Julie,
    I love this post! For me confidence is more important than perfection because if you keep trying to be perfect you will lose confidence at some point. Looking to improve while keeping your confidence high is the way to go!
    Very enjoyable!
    Thank you,

    • Julie Walraven on November 11, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Confidence is more important than perfection, Gavin, you are so right! It was an important hurdle for me to overcome and one I have to work on periodically. Thank you, my friend!

  2. Barb Poole on November 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I love this post Julie! So true; I learned years ago that my tendency to procrastinate was tied to wanting things perfect. And true to form, Jim is helping me with that. These words stick in my mind from our last chat, “It’s not important that something be perfect. It’s imperative that something important get done, however.” And “done” may mean it’s OKAY, not perfect.

    • Julie Walraven on November 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

      So right, Barb, and as a fellow client of Jim, I know you get it… but as I said to Gavin, that desire to be perfect keeps resurfacing in multiple areas of our lives and it takes confidence in yourself to keep pushing that desire away. Thanks for stopping by!

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