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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Overcoming Perfectionist Tendencies That Hold Back Your Business



Independent consultants often face obstacles when they leave the comfort of the structure and expectations provided by the corporate world. Cadence of Find Your Cadence Coaching explains how this is often related to perfectionism, overthinking, and low confidence. She explains how she coaches her clients and shares some tips for overcoming those perfectionist tendencies.


Notes from the Show

Cadence is the coach behind Find Your Cadence Coaching, where she helps women build confidence to overcome overthinking habits and perfectionist tendencies in their business, entrepreneurial life and beyond.


She draws comparisons from her former work in education, where she began to connect the dots in the patterns adults showed from unlearned childhood skills. Short tempers and being unable to handle big emotions are common flaws many adults present that can be exacerbated during a transition from the corporate world to independent consulting. The structure, expectations, and hierarchy keep perfectionists in check and when isolated from that, finding your way through new roles can be tricky.


Cadence shares some ideas on how to build confidence and create habits that will overcome perfectionism. She mentions the Garbage Posting Challenge, which, at face value, might not work for most but can be tailored to meet your goals. She also focuses on Awareness of Feelings whether that's through tracking, journaling, or even accountability conversations. She recommends noticing and recording the feelings you have around actions and getting to the bottom of them.


Coaching for confidence, as Cadence explains, can be beneficial to achieving goals in your business and beating perfectionism, but it can also benefit relationships and experiences throughout the scope of your day to day life.


What's Inside:

  • What are the signs of overthinking and perfectionism?

  • How do you overcome perfectionist tendencies?

  • How can confidence impact perfectionism?

  • How is perfectionism present in business?

  • Coaching to overcome perfectionism and grow confidence.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:37

Hello, everybody, welcome back to stop the noise. And today my guest is Cadence, who's the founder of Find your Cadence coaching? I think there might be a great story behind that name that we'll ask you about, but welcome Cadence. I'm so glad you're here.


Cadence 0:52

Awesome. Thank you Susan for having me.


Susan Tatum 0:54

So we were introduced by Richard Clifford, who has a small business sort of networking group where you are in you're in Hamilton, Ontario, right?


Cadence 0:58

Yes.


Susan Tatum 0:59

And so we had a conversation you and I just to get to know each other and and somehow we got on the topic of perfectionism. And so here we are to talk about that. But before we dig into that, for anybody on the call, that are listening, that doesn't know who you are, tell us about where you come from and what you do.


Cadence 1:24

Yeah, thank you. So I started out in early childhood education. So I've been educator for almost a decade. And during 2020, everyone had a lot of time to think including me. And that's when I started studying coaching. So I initially started studying to be a nutrition coach. And that's evolved a lot since then to become more of a confidence coach, specialising in overthinking and perfectionism. And the real connection there is when you really get to know child development, and how children tick how their brains start to figure out interpersonal relationships and emotional regulation, and how to deal with conflict and how to deal with when you don't get your way. And all of these things, I was able to start seeing patterns in adults, like the adults around me and adults, adults I interact with, and you just get to see like, oh, when you don't learn such and such skill, when you're four, it's really hard to even realise that you don't have that skill when you're 40. And so that's been a really big part of supporting people who have this kind of anxious, overthinking, perpetual, nagging feeling in their brain that stops them from getting themselves out there and trying new things, and starting relationships and all the stuff that makes life really fun.


Susan Tatum 2:46

So I was going to ask you, what are the like, what are the signs? How does it manifest itself, then in a 40, or 50 year old or whatever,


Cadence 2:54

you can tell? Well, I mean, it depends it, obviously everybody is different, I was able to start being able to tell when somebody is easy to be short with you, for example, if they're snippy or I don't know how else to word that, but if it's hard for them to manage an intense emotion and immediately take it out on you or take it out on maybe their work, or something else. So that's a skill that gets taught when you're four that some people get missed. That could be the conflict resolution thing, it can be just so many adults are not able to handle intense emotion. And that's why we have coping mechanisms like eating or watching TV or drinking or whatever it is that somebody chooses to do.


Susan Tatum 3:41

Yeah. Are you heading back at someone?


Cadence 3:44

Yeah, exactly. And so being able to handle those emotions in a more productive way. And even notice that they're there at all, lots of people don't even notice that they're there. And they assume that everything they are experiencing is exactly raw and true and accurate. And then that is actually preventing them from trying something.


Susan Tatum 4:05

So you use the word fear. And that's somewhere I had seen or heard that when when I don't know if short tempered is is really the right word. But when we react with like you're saying just like firing back at somebody that that is often based in fear. So would that be similar to what you're talking about with the overthinking and perfectionism? And


Cadence 4:28

I'd be I mean, it would depend on the person, I can see that being a thing because it that's that could be a more of a defence, I would imagine. If I feel like you think that I'm a bad person, because you said whatever about B, then I'm immediately feeling it could be afraid, it could be defensive. It could be, you know, something in that realm where I feel like I immediately need to make sure that you don't think that about me, and I'm going to try and control what's happening in your brain, even though that's impossible.


Susan Tatum 5:00

Nice try huh? So when you had mentioned to me when we talked before about being that perfectionism, overthinking, and perfectionism was a wee area of focus. And I see that quite a bit overthinking yeah, it's there. But the perfectionism in particular, I see it in my work wellness consultants, and specifically I'm working mostly with people that have built their careers in the corporate world, or academia, military, somebody in a very structured environment. And then they, they leave that world and start an independent consulting firm. So they're completely in an unstructured environment. And there's a lot of discomfort and some mental blocks, or that's probably not the right word, but some mindset issues that go along with that. And one of those things that I see is perfectionism that stands that stands in the way, specifically, when asked to publish something that they have written or created. And that could be a report or an article or some sort of research. But it could also be as simple as a post on LinkedIn. And so where, what do you see in that? What's happening there?


Cadence 6:15

Yeah. So when people come from a very structured environment, there are expectations about how quickly you're supposed to get something done timelines, what things should look like, hierarchies of who things should pass through, like everything, there's a lot of structure. And so when you're self sufficient, and you're trying to do all of the jobs at once, then it can be scary to have to make every single decision. And you have to be the one who decides when it's supposed to be put out there, how many times it's going to be reviewed before it's put out there, and things like that. And so then you'll see people, because they're obviously very intelligent, doing a lot of learning instead of doing and they might be doing a tonne of research. Or they might be rereading their posts 100 times. Or they might be asking everybody's opinion about the thing before it goes out. Like if people around them, I even noticed with some clients, they will specifically ask opinions of people who they know are going to be critical, who they know are going to even disapprove of what they're doing. So that they have proof and to be like, Ah, see, I knew it wasn't going to be good enough.


Susan Tatum 7:26

well yeah boy.


Cadence 7:27

then come back again. Yeah. So and again, that's we're talking about fear before that fear is huge there. Because you don't want to embarrass yourself, you don't want to mess up, you don't want to look unprofessional, you don't want to, you know, make the wrong post and people argue with you or something like that. So you're trying to avoid every mistake before it happens. But that's impossible.


Susan Tatum 7:45

For sure. You know, I think it goes back, I think it goes back, first of all, to also maybe the way that we were taught in school, and the way that these larger companies function and the way that things were until, let's say the digital world came along that you were expected to completely think something through before you released it into the wild that it should just be like a complete argument or like the essays you know, from school and things like that. So that's there. And then you mentioned the protecting yourself. And we know as humans we and I'm by no means is psychologist but I read this somewhere, you know, we our ancestors did have we have this fight or flight sort of thing. Because we're our ancestors were constantly in a position of not knowing what the enemy was, and having to be fearful of their lives. And so there's a little bit of that, that hangs on in thinking, well, if somebody what if I post this and somebody like, you know, disagrees or worse, they're bashing me with it.


Cadence 8:54

I would love to add to this. Sorry, the fight flight or freeze. So I feel like so many people are stuck in the freeze.


Susan Tatum 9:01

That's true. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. And then And then, and then nothing gets nothing gets done. So what do we do about this?


Cadence 9:09

I mean, lots of things you can do, but I've got some ideas. So we talked about one of the things that I use personally from somebody named Simone Sol created something called the garbage post challenge. So the idea behind that is that somebody posts she specifically focuses on social media marketing, but this can be taken however you want to take it, but that you post 100 times in 30 days, and the point of it is to not allow yourself the opportunity to overthink and critique and overanalyze because you just don't have the time you have to be posting. It's like I think the math is two or three times a day in order to get to 100. And so that is a lot. And so it's called garbage post because your brain is going to tell you, that's garbage. And that's garbage. And that's garbage. And you shouldn't do any of it so that you can do an actionable kind of strategy like that, where you're just like, I'm just going to make my things exist in the world, until it's not so horrific for me to do that


Susan Tatum 10:16

question for you. Does it matter where you do this?


Cadence 10:23

no


Susan Tatum 10:24

And the reason why I asked you that is because I would not advise anyone listening to this to post 100 times in 30 days on LinkedIn, nor to allow yourself to post garbage. But I see the point in what you're saying is, you're creating a habit, and you're breaking another habit, and then not giving yourself a chance to think about it too much. I think it has validity. But if I could do that on Twitter, or Facebook or someplace, I don't care, you know, that I don't go to, I think it would be less likely to cause a problem.


Cadence 10:59

Well, yeah. And I'm sure it depends on what field you're in, and things like that. So people who are not specifically using social media to attract their clients, or however it is, then maybe this isn't exactly but you can tweak it however you want. Maybe you can change the number for yourself, or whatever it is, that's scary enough. But the thing is, it doesn't have to be all in one platform. It just has to exist. So it could be an email counts, a post counts, sending it sending a specific email to a specific person can count. It's just whatever you decide counts. Ultimately, you're the boss of your, your goal setting and things like that. Posting any one place two or three times a day. sounds exhausting. But hey, some people want to be social media superstars, Instagram superstars, or whatever it is. So you decide.


Susan Tatum 11:46

and I think it's that is acceptable on, you know, a number of platforms. And there are people that believe that you should post multiple times a day on LinkedIn, and I'm just not one of them. I think, you know, we have enough noise on there to begin with, but you know, it reminds me of there's a group called well a programme is called ship 30. And Nicholas Cold and Dickey, his last name I forgotten, but they help people get into digital writing, and that their programme is that when you're part of it, you're gonna write a like 250 word, essay, they call them atomic essays every day, and post it for 30 days. And I think that you can't spend a whole lot of time on it, because you would be doing nothing else, right? If you really weren't one at agonise over this 250 word article, I think one of the things that and this may be a little harsh for some people. But one of the things that helps on LinkedIn, if you can just make yourself post is you realise that how many people end up seeing it. And this isn't going to come back to hurt you.


Cadence 12:54

I want to talk about that for a second because we were talking a little bit about finding proof before. So I can elaborate on that bit in a second. But I have proof that that's true. And that is right now I'm six months pregnant.


Susan Tatum 13:12

oh congratulations


Cadence 13:13

thank you. I've been dropping it in my stories, or in a post or even mentioning it in my podcast for about four months. And a couple days ago, I posted a baby bump picture. And like, here are some things I'm learning about pregnancy da, da, da And I still having not even just random people, but friends and friends of friends comment to be like, Oh my gosh, I didn't even know Congratulations. This has been posted. So if people are not seeing things that are a really big deal in your life over the course of four months, they're definitely not not seeing you post one time occasionally about your offer.


Susan Tatum 13:54

Yeah, I think it's just it's just taking that step. But sometimes like I think I've alluded you earlier in this conversation, sometimes it's an excuse to not do something


Cadence 14:03

I feel I get what you're saying. It's hard because I'll use diet culture as an example. In diet culture. The more you put yourself down, the more you shame yourself for not aligning with a certain diet that you said you are going to go on or whatever, the more likely you are to like rubberband and go back and go back even more intensely than you were before and give up on the whole thing. And so why I'm saying that is just it's hard when we have words that can make us feel judged by ourselves. So something like an The word just the word excuse for example can make you feel like ah, that's why that's just one more thing I'm not doing right. And it can be a really down big downer and then it's so frustrating.


Susan Tatum 14:52

Point taken. I will not say that again.


Cadence 14:56

But I agree with the sentiment that there were definitely other reasons that you're not posting. And it's not just circumstantial.


Susan Tatum 15:04

Well, I'll I'll say it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with wanting things to be the best that they can be. And I, but I, I also think that there's one of the advantages to the, the world that we're in now, with the digital capability that we have for writing can be a disadvantage, because you get a lot of junk out there. But the advantages also that you can put an idea out there, that's not totally thought through just to get the reactions from your network or other people out there, which enriches your thinking, if you can open it up that way.


Cadence 15:46

Yeah, I think that's a great point. I thought it was, I thought you're gonna go in another direction. And I was ready for it to be like, oh, yeah, you if you use like AI, for example, I'm assuming that's what you're, you're talking about, then?


Susan Tatum 15:55

Yeah. have thoughts on that, too?


Cadence 15:57

Yeah. But that that can be triggering. And then people are going to jump in and fight about it and stuff like that. And just to create the hype, or something like that. So I'm glad you didn't go down that route? Because I'd be like, I don't know.


Susan Tatum 16:09

Not my area


Cadence 16:10

I think that's a good point that people will engage with you more. And if you are wanting to show up as you and not as kind of this, I think people tend to when they do post because it's so thought through or so edited 100 times, they're not showing up as themselves.


Susan Tatum 16:30

you mean the way that it sounds? Yeah, like it's too formal.


Cadence 16:35

Yeah. Something about it is like distant or Yeah


Susan Tatum 16:39

yeah. And we do know that people want you to be more human and just be much more conversational with them. So I mean, we're not talking about giving a TED Talk to 1000s of people, that's a different, that's a different thing altogether. Okay. So we've got the garbage post challenge, which we've expanded into other options for doing for accomplishing pretty much the same thing. What else? What other ideas or thoughts do you have about what we can do to overcome this tendency for perfectionism?


Cadence 17:11

Yeah. So a big first step that I always mentioned is awareness around, especially your feelings. And so whether you the person listening, whether you're able to do that on your own, through some kind of just paying attention throughout your day, or writing down in a journal, or having a coach or a therapist, or a good friend, that can remind you through conversation about this awareness, but essentially, the way that you feel impacts the actions that you take. So when you're feeling scared, overwhelmed, nervous, like you're not good enough, like any of those kinds of feelings, if you were to be honest with yourself, what actions are you then going to take, and they're probably not going to be actions that are pointing you in the right direction, or being very helpful. And so noticing, when you're having those feelings can be a really great first step. So that you can be like, Okay, I'm feeling afraid, I don't want to post this thing. Because why, and then start being honest with yourself there, I'll because I'm afraid people are going to argue with me, or people are gonna think I'm unprofessional, or whatever it is. And when you're honest with yourself there, you can, you know, start to ask more and more questions. And that is a little bit going down the line. But if you're willing to do it, if you want to keep doing this exercise, you can keep ask yourself why but why and is that true? And do I really care? And, you know, ask yourself more questions. And you can decide from that kind of more calm point of view instead of being automatic.


Susan Tatum 18:48

Also, would you say to asking the question, what, what's the worst that can happen?


Cadence 18:53

That's a great question. That's one of my favourite questions. I often say, what's the worst case scenario? What's the best case scenario? And what do you want to do about it?


Susan Tatum 19:04

I remember saying in two years, who will remember this, if you're about to do something stupid. Anyway?


Cadence 19:09

Yeah, I think that's great question nd then if you if you think, oh, probably everybody for real, and maybe don't post it.


Susan Tatum 19:16

Yeah, right. Yeah. I when I was coming along, we were told, you should never put anything in writing that you wouldn't want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times. Now I think that has to expand to never say anything, because it could be recorded. You never know who's listening in like my phone is forever sending me ads about something that I talked about, not on the phone call me paranoid.


Cadence 19:41

Very true. That's I have no proof, but it's probably true.


Susan Tatum 19:47

So what about encouraging, building confidence then? That's another thing that I think you mentioned is maybe contributing I don't want to say lack of confidence, but maybe in that in one in a particular area that would lead to overthinking something or trying to be perfect. How can you talk about that a bit?


Cadence 20:11

Sure. So if someone is not feeling confident, it's usually in a certain area. But it also can be how you do one thing tends to be how you do a lot of things. So if you think I'm going to fail, or I'm going to embarrass myself, it would be interesting, a good exercise for you to look at a bunch of areas of your life, and see how often that really does come up. So if you think yourself, I'm going to embarrass myself, does that also come up? When you're hanging out with your friends? And you're afraid to share your ideas? Or you don't want to tell that joke that's in your head? Is it? Does it come up when you, you know, go to a networking event, and you want to talk about your business? Like, does it show up when you're walking your dog at the park and you're like, that person looks cute, maybe I should talk to them. Like, just have some awareness about where that shows up. And it's interesting, because a lot of my clients, they might want to work on their business, or they might want to work on dating, or they might want to work on making more friends, because they're all kind of related to confidence. And once they start working on their confidence in one area, they notice, oh, my relationship with my mom is better. Oh, I can actually stand up for myself at work or over here. And so it's it's pretty interesting how it's all connected.


Susan Tatum 21:29

Well, and that is a that is a particularly, I think, common occurrence with folks that have spent decades working inside these larger companies and highlighting these highly unstructured environments. And suddenly, they find themselves on their own and in a completely alien environment to what they're used to. So their confidence in their subject matter expertise remains, but the confidence in a lot of other areas. Release deserts them at some points. And I think what you're saying, and that makes sense to me is that just be being aware of the fact that that's happening to you is half the battle,


Cadence 22:15

it's definitely a great start. Because then you can see, first of all, you can see that you don't have to be perfect. And where you were before, there were lots of structures supporting you, so that you could be really good at this one thing. And so now you've got that one thing and you're out here, trying to do all those other supporting acts, as well as the thing you're really good at. And it's okay that you're not amazing at those things yet. You didn't have to do them before. And now you do. And it's okay that it's hard. I'm I'm sure there are lots of people who are like me out there who think that they should be good at everything. But I tried it. So therefore I must be amazing at it in three weeks, or else I will give up. And so like whether you're an entrepreneur a goal assisted


Susan Tatum 23:02

I wanting to golf, I'm not willing to put the time in to learn how to play, but I'd love to be able to just walk out on the golf course and play well.


Cadence 23:08

Yeah. So you've got to have a good why because if you don't really care that much about golf, then you're not going to put the time and effort into it. In 2021. I learned how to play hockey and I didn't even know how to skate because I decided I want to learn something.


Susan Tatum 23:25

How can you be Canadian and not know how to skate?


Cadence 23:27

You grew up poor.


Susan Tatum 23:31

Do you play hockey now?


Cadence 23:32

Well, I can't right now because I'm pregnant but I would


Susan Tatum 23:35

Right. So you already forgot you're pregnant.


Cadence 23:39

But it's it's really, really fun. I'm glad that I decided to do that. Because I just I cried so many times. Because it's so scary to be on the ice and have all these people with their big everyone has big outfits on


Susan Tatum 23:53

that's helpful. If you had a similar one too.


Cadence 25:54

It is. Yeah. The first time you fall in all that gear and you're like, oh my gosh, I'm saved.


Susan Tatum 24:02

It's a cloud and insulating on a cloud.


Cadence 24:04

Yeah


Susan Tatum 24:05

until your teeth get knocked out. So you mentioned in sort of in passing about having a coach towards there, or a therapist or something. What's the role of coaching in helping to overcome procrastination, not procrastination sorry, perfectionism or overthinking.


Cadence 24:20

that was a good slip anyways, because procrastination is huge and perfectionism. But as far as a coach, what happens when you have a relationship with a coach, where you're seeing them every week is that they get to point out all the things or not all the things, things that you bring to the table that you're frustrated with, and you don't want to or can't work through on your own. So you come in, at the beginning of the week, say like, my goal was to post three times this week, and I didn't even post once and you're just so so frustrated with yourself, you're getting down on yourself, you have this goal and you just don't know why you're not doing it and I get that kind of thing all lot where it's like, I thought I was gonna do it. And I don't know why I didn't do it. And so you have somebody who can look at your thoughts with you and be like, Why actually figure out why you didn't do something, what you were feeling in the moment, before you're going to do something, help you with coping tools and strategies on handling that emotion when it comes up instead of brushing over it or ignoring it. And then you're able to start achieving the goals that you want to. And then the thing is, growth is nonlinear. So you're going to come back the next week, and you might have a very similar problem with a different story around it. So you might think, I fixed it, I fixed perfectionism, I had this conversation, and I'm fixed. But you have someone to again, show you Oh, see, this is another sneaky way that your brain is showing you. I'm scared, I don't want to do anything too crazy. Let's not do that either. And so you have just more eyes on the problem. And then you're able to take that with you throughout your week as well. So it's just kind of having, in a way a cheerleader too.


Susan Tatum 26:04

Right, right. And a person that doesn't have that little voice inside their heads that are saying all the things that the little voice inside your head is saying extremely helpful. And, and, and a reality check. So that's great. So this is you have this coaching business? Who do you work with? What? What kinds of folks do you like as clients?


Cadence 26:25

So the majority of people I work with are women, or female presenting people. And there are folks who would describe themselves as over thinkers, sometimes perfectionist, but definitely over thinkers, anxious people who have that voice in their head saying, You're not good enough, or you shouldn't try that. Or you know, just that that voice in your head that keeps you from doing the thing that you actually want to do. So they'll usually be professionals or entrepreneurs. And it doesn't have to be just about business. Like I said, one thing usually affects other things. And so we kind of just start wherever they want, but yeah,


Susan Tatum 27:07

all right. And then folks that want to get to know you a little, a little more about you. How can they do that? Yeah.


Cadence 27:14

So if you're looking for more resources on confidence, and perfectionism and overthinking, then I have a podcast the Find your Cadence podcast you can find on Spotify. Otherwise, if you want to just hang out with me, you can find me on Instagram at Find your Cadence coaching, or send me an email info@findyourcadencecoaching.


Susan Tatum 27:33

Alright, awesome. But you are on LinkedIn, you just don't Yeah, well, you've been posting some there lately.


Cadence 27:39

Occasionally, I'll remember that LinkedIn exists. I'm not really on LinkedIn much. I'm not really on Facebook much. But if you're somebody who wants to connect with me, I do offer free consultations for an hour where we can talk about things that you feel like are holding you back, or goals that you see for yourself that for some reason, you're just not achieving if you feel a little nervous by yourself. So if you want to connect or just chat about those kinds of things, you can again, find me on Instagram, or send me an email, or go to my website. And I'm sure those all be linked,


Susan Tatum 28:11

but don't look for on LinkedIn.


Cadence 28:14

you can but I might not answer you.


Susan Tatum 28:18

All right, well, that's a fantastic offer. And we'll put that in the show notes for anybody that couldn't write that down, but wants to follow up with you. And is there anything Cadence that I should have asked you or that we should have talked about that we didn't talk about? There's one


Cadence 28:31

thing that I remember saying I'll elaborate this off, I'll elaborate on this later. And I didn't, which is the proof. So I'll elaborate on that a little bit now, if you remember me talking about proof, a few minutes ago, basically, your brain loves your brain can find proof for anything. And it loves making meaning out of any small thing, you don't make anything mean something about you. And so that can be negative or positive. And so you can find a lot of proof that something isn't working or that you're no good or you know, all the all the things that that voice in your head is saying you can find proof for that. Or you can make an effort to find proof for the alternative, either in yourself or in other people, proof that people can be successful by posting all the time or that people can be successful and make mistakes. And so I just wanted to put that out there. If you are very sure that the stories that your brain tells you are true. This is your opportunity to just ask and question, if that is really true. You know,


Susan Tatum 29:34

I'm gonna, I'm glad you brought that up because it reminded me of something that you told me the first time we talked which was, if you're struggling with thinking that you have to be everything has to be perfect. Think about the people that you admire, and it's probably not that hard to find some mistake that they may have made at some point because as we've said, nobody's perfect. So it's the evidence is there if we just seek it out.


Cadence 30:01

Yeah.


Susan Tatum 30:01

All right. Well thank you so much for for being here today and sharing all of that with us. I really appreciate it.


Cadence 30:07

Thank you so much for having me.


Susan Tatum 30:10

Have a have a great day.


Cadence 30:12

Thanks you too.




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