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Guest opinion: The perfectionist


By Ellen Willadsen | Chief financial officer, Holmes Murphy & Associates 

Experts have speculated that one of the items holding women back from rising in their career is a tendency toward perfection. I’m sure both men and women struggle with this, especially in today’s demanding environment. 

So, let me ask you this. Have you ever felt like you’re failing everyone? Your parents, children, employer, siblings, friends are all important to you, yet, you can never find enough time to spend with them? If you’re shaking your head yes, join the club!

Frequently when planning a social outing, a friend will say, “I can fit in 15 minutes for coffee or a drink next Wednesday!” Seriously, how much are we going to accomplish in that time when we’re both thinking about dashing to the next event? Would it be better to say, “Let’s meet for dinner in three weeks when we have a free night?” Rather than trying to be at everything your family is part of, is it better to focus on the ones that are most important to them?

When asked how your day was, if you find yourself rattling off 20 items like it’s a badge of honor to do more, slow down! Take some personal time to reflect on what the best use of your time is. Schedule time to keep yourself healthy, both physically and emotionally.
While it’s hard, it’s also important to let go of the demands no one will remember a week from now. I have a rule that if something goes wrong and it’s not going to be remembered in 10 years, it’s not that big of a deal! Let go and enjoy life. It will help you confidently raise your hand when opportunities do arise.

And finally, when it comes down to it, accepting the fact it’s impossible to be everything to everyone is a good step in helping you feel good about yourself. But, how can you do that? I’ve found that at the start of the year, I need to make a list of the most important dates and events to me. Perhaps it’s a wedding, birthdays, important work deadlines, etc. I work to find those events that are truly important and ensure I carve out enough time to immerse my whole self into them. If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m still working on mastering this. And, that’s OK. You might find yourself in the same boat. The key is to have purpose in your everyday life.

After all, if you have to be a perfectionist, maybe being a “purposeful” perfectionist is truly the way to go.

Ellen Willadsen joined Holmes Murphy & Associates in 1995. As chief financial officer, she assists in all strategic and tactical matters as they relate to budget management, evaluation of potential acquisitions, cost benefit analysis, and Holmes Murphy’s overall vision of growth. Willadsen also serves on the Holmes Murphy Executive Committee and as a director on Holmes Murphy’s board. A graduate of the University of Iowa and a certified public accountant, Willadsen is an active participant in the United Way Women’s Leadership Connection where she serves on the Investment Committee, and with the Iowa Society of CPAs where she serves on the CPE Committee. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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