Josephine Hardman On How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’

An Interview With Karina Michel Feld

Karina Michel Feld
Authority Magazine
Published in
13 min readJul 6, 2021


Being a perfectionist is not entirely negative. Perfectionism often drives us to follow through on our commitments, to seek mastery in everything we do, and to achieve significant goals and milestones in our lives. In other words, perfectionism can be a positive source of ambition, drive, enthusiasm, and perseverance. In my own life, my perfectionism and type A tendencies drove me to excel in the academic world, graduate with an honors bachelor’s degree, and complete both a master’s and PhD program in 6 years. Perfectionists also tend to be highly detail-oriented and conscientious, traits that can serve us well in industries and professions that require a high level of precision.

Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josephine Hardman.

Josephine Hardman, PhD is a certified intuitive healer and business coach for healers and service-based entrepreneurs. Josephine spent 10 years living “from the neck up” in the world of academia before leaving everything behind to do spiritual work full-time. She helps healers, coaches, and spiritual entrepreneurs grow their businesses through intuitive, conscious, and soulful practices that are also effective and get results. You can connect with her at

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was a “nomad” of sorts growing up. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina but my parents and I relocated to Quito, Ecuador when I turned 12. We then moved again to Florida when I was 17, and I finally landed in Western Massachusetts at age 22 to attend graduate school. I grew up in a supportive home with hippie-ish parents — a psychotherapist and a high school English teacher — who encouraged my exploration of spirituality, creativity, and introspection. Although my parents didn’t put excessive pressure on me to succeed academically, or in any other way, I started putting that pressure on myself early on. I found it easy to get external approval and validation through intellectual pursuits, so I became an A-student and built an identity around being smart and academically successful. Eventually, I had to do significant work to release that rigid identity and become a more well-rounded, emotionally fulfilled person.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Currently, my favorite life lesson quote is from Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. She says: “Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.”

These words are so important, especially in the context of releasing perfectionism, because there’s never a “perfect” time to start something — whether you’re starting a new business, a family, or a new creative project. If we wait until the perfect time to take that leap or take decisive action on something we’ve been yearning for, the time will never come. It’s best to just start. Right now. Even if you’re scared; even if you don’t know how things will turn out.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I return to a tiny little book — Seth Godin’s The Dip — over and over again, especially as an entrepreneur. This book teaches you the importance of knowing when, and how, to quit. As a recovering perfectionist and self-proclaimed “completist,” I used to push myself very hard to finish everything I started — this included business and creative projects, collaborations with other people, even books and movies. I used to find it very hard to stop watching a movie or stop reading a book halfway through, even if that movie or book was boring me to tears and had nothing to offer me. I now value my time so much more and give myself permission to quit anything that doesn’t resonate with me at a deep level. This is where intuition and gut feelings are really important in business, as well as in life.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Curiosity. An attitude of open curiosity has been essential in growing my business. Being willing to ask, “what might happen if I try this?” without any attachments to outcome. Building and growing a business requires experimentation every step of the way. In my own business, for example, I’ve experimented with how I deliver my services: one-on-one versus small groups versus larger cohorts for automated courses. In playing around with these possibilities, you discover what actually works for you — and where you can be of most service to your people — through actual lived experience and empirical data.
  • Willingness to get things wrong. Building my own business has required me to release the perfectionistic tendency of avoiding making a mistake at all costs. This fear of making a mistake is often rooted in low self-worth and a lack of belief in our own ability to make something useful out of whatever happens. Giving myself permission to make mistakes and get things wrong has been powerfully liberating. It has allowed me to breathe deeper and follow my intuition without being hounded by my inner critic’s loud voice: “Watch out! Be careful! Don’t look stupid!”
  • Persistence. I see business-building as a long game. A marathon, not a sprint. In this respect, persistence is my greatest asset. I’m able to follow through on my commitments to myself, my clients, and my business growth. Persistence also means showing up time and time again — even when it’s uncomfortable, even after I send an email campaign and get crickets or I launch a course and no one signs up. These are not “failures”, but rather opportunities to gather data and course-correct.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain?

In my view and personal experience, a perfectionist is someone who is not satisfied with doing things “halfway.” A perfectionist has an innate desire to achieve mastery and be the best at what they do — whatever that might be. Perfectionists hold extremely high standards for themselves (and possibly others) and, as the word implies, strive for perfection in everything they do. Perfectionists tend to be type A, overachievers, fastidious, precise, and very thoughtful. They can also suffer tremendously if their perfectionism is driven by self-judgment and a harsh inner critic.

The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?

Being a perfectionist is not entirely negative. Perfectionism often drives us to follow through on our commitments, to seek mastery in everything we do, and to achieve significant goals and milestones in our lives. In other words, perfectionism can be a positive source of ambition, drive, enthusiasm, and perseverance. In my own life, my perfectionism and type A tendencies drove me to excel in the academic world, graduate with an honors bachelor’s degree, and complete both a master’s and PhD program in 6 years. Perfectionists also tend to be highly detail-oriented and conscientious, traits that can serve us well in industries and professions that require a high level of precision.

What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?

As perfectionists, we often try to avoid making mistakes, looking “stupid”, or risking failure. This can make it challenging to start new projects where we don’t know what the outcome might be, or if we don’t have 10 or 20 steps laid out in front of us ahead of time. Perfectionism can manifest as a harsh inner critic, pushing us to be productive 24/7 or hounding us if we try something new outside of our comfort zone. This, in turn, extinguishes the fire of creativity and inspiration, preventing us from expressing ourselves creatively without any attachment to outcome. Many perfectionists find it difficult, for example, to sit down to create art, or to write, or to play around with a new idea without a clearly defined end goal. This can also show up in situations such as taking up a new instrument or language but giving up immediately in frustration because we want to be “perfect” at it from the get-go. As perfectionists, it can be really difficult to accept our limitations or to treat ourselves with compassion when we haven’t yet mastered a new skill.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain?

There are two major fears that often paralyze perfectionists and keep them stuck: the fear of failure and the fear of making a mistake. The fear of making a mistake, in particular, can feel like a life-or-death situation. This fear triggers the inner critic to say things like, “if you make even a tiny mistake, your whole world will fall apart and everyone will realize you’re incompetent and inadequate.” So there’s also a fear of being perceived as less-than-perfect, as a fraud or impostor. The fear of failure keeps perfectionists in a state of hypervigilance, constantly watching what they say and do to avoid being criticized. More specifically, perfectionists tend to avoid the discomfort of being criticized at all costs, including through behaviors like people-pleasing, overdelivering, doing more than is expected, and pushing themselves to be productive at all times.

Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?” Please share a story or example for each.

  1. The first thing perfectionists need to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it” is that perfection is subjective. We all have different ideas about what “perfection” means across different contexts, so achieving perfection is truly an impossible goal. You can still have high standards for your work and how you want to be and act in the world, but it’s important to periodically check those standards to make sure they’re not unrealistic or overly demanding. Most perfectionists would benefit greatly by treating themselves with more self-compassion and self-understanding and becoming aware of how they speak to themselves. This is especially true for people who have a strong inner critic who constantly tells them they’re “not good enough”. Consciously shifting this inner dialogue from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m good enough in this moment and in every moment, and I’m doing my best” can be remarkably liberating.
  2. Perfectionists also tend to work really hard at not disappointing others. This is where perfectionism can be tied up with people-pleasing behaviors, like saying yes to every external demand or request and always going the extra mile for other people while putting ourselves last. An important insight I’ve discovered in the past few years is that if you’re not disappointing anyone, you’re not really living. In following your truth, speaking your mind, and being willing to take a stand for what you believe in, you will at some point disappoint or offend someone. Or someone might disagree with you. The prospect of this can be terrifying! But the second thing to know to move beyond perfectionism is that a truthful life based on integrity requires you to be willing to disappoint others by not being “perfect.” At first, when you begin to speak your mind more openly and allow yourself to be imperfect, this might rattle some cages or upset others — especially within family dynamics if you’ve always been the caretaker, the responsible one, the “perfect” mother or father or spouse or child. But the more you allow yourself to be human and flawed and imperfect, the more you give permission to the people around you to treat themselves with greater compassion, too.
  3. In their quest for perfection, perfectionists tend to avoid risks. These can include risks in relationships, at home, and in business. For example, relationship risks include speaking up about something that’s no longer working for you in an intimate partnership, or letting someone know they’ve hurt you in some way, or enforcing boundaries about your space. Risks in business might include hiring a new coach, creating a course or program, or putting yourself out there through a speaking engagement or podcast interview. In all of these cases, there can be strong fears about looking or sounding stupid, not being prepared enough, your point of view not being valid, or the other person (or persons) perceiving you negatively. But the third thing to know to move beyond perfectionism is that taking risks can help us grow, learn, and evolve into the people we really want to be. We can’t allow ourselves to remain trapped in the prison of perfectionism, scared of taking a leap of faith or moving beyond our familiar (and limiting) comfort zone.
  4. The fear of failure can destroy creative projects and other worthwhile endeavors before they even get started. This is why it’s so important for perfectionists to redefine what “failure” means (and also what “success” means). For example, in business, launching a new course and getting a low enrollment can be perceived as a failure — or it can be perceived as an opportunity to collect data about what’s working and not working in that course, where the marketing fell short, whether the course was properly positioned for the right demographic, and if enough people in that demographic had a chance to hear about the course in the first place. The fourth thing to know to move beyond perfectionism, especially in entrepreneurship, is that you must allow yourself the space to try things and make mistakes. Living a life of hypervigilance where you’re constantly guarding yourself against any tiny imperfection is not really living. Stop holding yourself hostage and decide, right now, that an imperfectly finished project or product or idea is still worth creating and putting out into the world. You can always course-correct or refine things later on.
  5. The fifth thing to know to move beyond perfectionism is that you don’t necessarily need to “move beyond” perfectionism to live a happy, fulfilling, and joyfully productive life. If your perfectionism is a deeply engrained, inherent trait, it might always be with you. And that’s OK. What you can do is shift your relationship to your perfectionism. Instead of allowing it to drive the bus, so to speak, see your perfectionism as a (sometimes misguided) friend and invite it to sit on the passenger’s seat. Learn to speak to your inner perfectionist directly. For example, when you’re about to launch a new product or service and you hear that voice telling you, “don’t do it! You’re not good enough! This isn’t perfect and you’re going to look bad”, speak back to it by saying, “I appreciate your concern and desire to help me. I’m going to try something different this time, and I hope we can work together on releasing the need for this to be perfect. It’s good enough for right now, and I’m good enough, too.” This might create some space between the real you and your inner perfectionist, allowing you to take the action you want to take without getting stuck.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’d want to inspire a movement that encourages people to take their power back. Many of us tend to give our power away in day-to-day life without even realizing, in both major and subtle ways. For instance, when you hide your true feelings or thoughts to please someone else, you’re giving a bit of your power away to them. When you placate your boss or colleague even though you have something important to say that might go against their ideas, you’re giving some of your power away. When you stay in a friendship or business partnership beyond its expiration date, you’re giving your power away. When you force yourself to attend a family event where you know you’re going to feel lousy and drained, you’re giving your power away. It’s so important for all of us, perfectionists or not, to be mindful of where we’re giving our power and energy away, and to take it back so we can be whole, energized, and at peace within ourselves. We can’t be effective and innovative leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators without having access to our full power.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

It’s tough to narrow this down! Can I name two people?

I’ve followed the work of author and masterful storyteller Bernadette Jiwa for a long time. Her books, including Marketing: A Love Story, have transformed the way I think about marketing and how I can resonate with my clients in an overcrowded, noisy world.

For working through my own perfectionism, teacher Tara Brach has been a source of invaluable guidance and wisdom. I recommend her book, Radical Acceptance, to all of my clients and friends dealing with issues of self-judgment and perfectionism.

How can our readers follow you online?

To connect with me online, people can head over to or find me at

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!