04 May 2021

Perfectionism Lawyers syndrome: learn to detect it. The search for perfection is billed.

Is there the perfect world, the perfect couple, the perfect job? Almost everyone is clear about the answer: absolutely not. However, it is very common for us to wear ourselves out in search of something that we rationally know does not exist.

The idea of perfection has been conveyed because you are small "do better, I know what I can expect from you much more", "do not settle for being mediocre." With this, teachers and parents want you to strive to fully develop your potential, to do a quality work.

Overcoming perfectionism in law 

Too many lawyers are plagued by an unsustainable need to be the best at everything they are tasked with. Managing this trait is essential not only for personal well being but also for professional success.

By their nature, and as studies repeatedly show, lawyers tend to display perfectionist tendencies, which can and do have deleterious effects upon one’s holistic wellness.

“We engage in perfectionist thinking, we often won’t accept any achievement that is less than what we perceive to be as ‘perfect,’ and I put perfect in inverted commas there because it doesn’t really exist, there is no perfect, and if there is a fleeting moment, it’s unsustainable,” 

“I think that, as a profession, we find ourselves being very task-oriented. We move from task to task, we love to tick a box and quickly get onto the next thing, and we hold ourselves to a really high standard. 

So, I find that that creates a space where we measure productivity, and we use it as a badge of honour. We use the term busy: ‘I’m so busy, I’m so busy’. Busy is a badge of honour, and I think that that can all stem from this underlying need to be productive, to be seen to be productive, because that’s stemming from a place where we feel like we need to be perfect.”

Letting go of perfectionism in the lawyering profession: 8 tips

Letting go of perfectionism is not something you do overnight, this is a process that takes time. The tips below can help you start this process. Are you ready to unleash perfectionism? Then read the tips below!

1. Lower the bar a little

It's fine to pursue goals, but if your bar is so high that it's barely achievable, you'd better lower it a little bit. Good is good enough. Steven to perfection mainly takes a lot of energy and time and it takes a lot of frustration. Be a little less strict with yourself, lower your standard and settle for good.

2. Look at the bigger picture

Perfectionists can completely lose themselves in the smallest details (been there, done that). You're going to miss your target. Therefore, keep focus on the overall picture, the bigger picture. How important is that detail? Does it really matter? Is it necessary to adjust? Is it functional already?


If you want to build a website, but waste your time searching for the 'perfect' font, this is a shame. Your website also functions if the font is not yet exactly as you would like. You better make sure that your website is in order and can be used, that font can always be adjusted.

3. Letting go of perfectionism: accept imperfections

If I made a mistake in my diary, I'd rather rip the page out. Nowadays I don't do that anymore, but I try to embrace the 'mistake' and write down what I learned from it instead of hurting me or I accept that it's not quite as I had in mind.

This is a way for me to let go of perfectionism. It is precisely accepting that it is not exactly as I would like it to be that makes it easier and better for me to deal with it. Because perfectionism is just a perception, what is perfect for you does not necessarily have to be perfect for someone else.

"Actually, you'd better make a lot of mistakes, because knowing how not to do something is just as important as knowing how to do something."

Source: Freepik

4. Realize that other people's way can also be good

Do you get all the chills when you see someone doing a job in a way that you don't think is "good"? I feel you. I've had a lot of trouble with that. My way would be the best way, but is it?

I have consciously let go that the other person will never do it my way and that other people's way can also be good. It may not be exactly as I would, but that doesn't make it immediately 'wrong'.

Let go that others do things differently, everyone does it in their own way and when the end goal is achieved, that is always the most important thing.

5. Realize that they are learning moments

Just because something doesn't go the way you expected doesn't mean it's the end of the world. The statement 'you can learn from mistakes' probably doesn't sound unfamiliar to you and it really is. In fact, you'd better make a lot of mistakes, because knowing how not to do something is just as important as knowing how to do something.

So don't hesitate to do it wrong, but do, experiment and learn from it. It is better to take action and realize that it can be done differently, than to keep perfecting and ultimately decide not to do anything with it. That's such a shame! So realize that making mistakes is fine and it mainly makes you a lot wiser. 

Allow to make mistakes and forgive yourself every day!

6. Give yourself appreciation

Letting go of perfectionism is accompanied by letting go of the appreciation of others. Perfectionists are often looking for appreciation, they want to do well, show what they can do, perform. But what if you are no longer dependent on others, but you are going to give yourself that appreciation?

What you do is also good if others do not say anything about it, as long as you are satisfied it is good. Pat yourself on the back, do things without showing it to others, and appreciate your own work. It is wonderful to no longer long for other people's confirmation. It's not about what the other person thinks, it's about what you think.

This also applies to that little voice that constantly asks: "What would others think of this?" Who cares! This is your life; don't let it depend on 'what others would think' but follow your feelings and do what's best for you.

7. Change your beliefs

If you strive for perfection, this may have to do with negative thoughts or beliefs, for example:

·I can't make mistakes

·I can't do this

·I'm not good enough

But uncertainty can also play a role. By changing this, you can also tackle your perfectionism. Allow yourself to make mistakes and know you're good the way you are and start believing in yourself a little more. Turn over the above convinces and say:

·I get to make mistakes, that makes me wiser

·I don't know how, but I'm going to do it

·I am good as I am

Convince yourself you can do it. Also remember that the world doesn't end when something isn't quite perfect (and what's actually perfect?). Dare to trust that good is really good enough.

To reduce uncertainty, it can help to work on your self-confidence. The more confident you are of yourself, the less you become dependent on the opinion of others.Trust yourself, believe in yourself and be less strict with yourself.

8. Set a timer

Perfectionism costs a lot. Many. Time. A lot. What helps me is to set a timer. For example, if I want to publish a blog post, I can waste a lot of time searching for a suitable image. That's a shame, because I'd better use that time.

What I'm doing now is putting a certain amount of time to myself, at the time the timer goes off it should be ready. Of course, sometimes it happens that I need a little more time, but it is above all a nice awareness. You become aware of the time and are reminded of how much time you have been working on something.

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