No matter the effort you put in, it can feel like what you produce is never good enough. No matter how big your dreams and goals are, you feel paralyzed by this need to be perfect. It takes you forever to put any work out into the public eye because you keep needing to tweak things.

The result is you do nothing. You have a pile of projects that you started and discard out of fear of not being good enough. You have made no progress towards your dreams since you can't consistently finish and move forward.

“If you aren't embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”  - Reid Hoffman

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What is Never Good Enough Syndrome

Never Good Enough can also be called imposter syndrome. It's a psychological pattern where one will doubt their work and accomplishments in fear of being exposed as a fraud. No matter how much recognition or praise one receives, this problem can persist.

The entire problem stems from a feeling of being inadequate and being fearful that others will see you for who you are. The problem with this is that it stems from caring too much what others think about you.

5 Ways Never Good Enough Syndrome Shows Up 

1. The Perfectionist

When you're a perfectionist, you set extremely high goals and expectations for yourself, but if you don't meet that standard, you have a lot of self-doubts. Most people who fear their work never being good enough are type-A perfectionists.

Typical Behaviours

  • Being a micromanager
  • Trouble delegating work 
  • Constantly disappointed in results regardless of positive feedback 
  • Accuse yourself of not being capable 
  • Feel pressured to produce flawless work all of the time

2. The Workaholic

The workaholic thinks that they can get it all done if they work a bit more. People like this think they suck, but everyone else is much better at their job. They work harder and hope that it will help them to catch up to the pack. Working hard ends up being a poor cover-up for insecurities. 

Typical Behaviors 

  • Working extra hours even when work is done
  • Hate having any downtime
  • Sacrifice other areas of life for work
  • Feel like your job was not earned 

3. The Smarty Pants

Competency for this group is judged on how fast work can be completed rather than time spent working like the workaholic. Shame is felt when they take longer to complete tasks than others. The smarty pants people want to get everything done with one try.

  • Want to do well without much effort
  • Always had great grades in school 
  • Often praised for their intelligence growing up 
  • Hate having to learn from others
  • Confidence can't hand setbacks 
  • Only try to attack tasks they are good at

4. The Solo Dolo Act

The solo dolo refuses to ask for help out of fear that it will make them look dumb. Refusing help when you don't know what to do is more about your ego than doing a good job. 

Types of Behaviors

  • Deadset on getting things done on your own 
  • Always telling people that you don't need help 

5. The Expert 

Instead of looking at workload or time to complete work, the expert looks at how much they know. It leads to a feeling of never knowing enough to be able to their job well. 

Types of Behaviors

  • Will not apply to jobs unless you meet every single qualification 
  • Always looking for more education or certifications 
  • Fear of not having answers
  • Hate to be called an expert

How to Overcome "Never Good Enough" or Imposter Syndrome 

These are some simple things you can do to work at overcoming the irrational fear that is imposter syndrome. You can combine some of these or do them on your own. It depends on your personality and what situation you think they will thrive in.

1. Speak On It

Instead of letting your issues fester in the dark, shine some light on them. Be honest with others that you feel inadequate at times. Let others know what you need to be successful, and most people would be willing to help you. 

2. Engage Your Logical Brain

Fear is emotional. You can't let your emotional brain override your logic. When you look at the situation logically, most of the time, you will be more than qualified to do the work. It's your fears that that and tell you otherwise.  

3. Know Your Triggers

When you feel your self feeling like you're not enough, write down what happened. You will start to see patterns that can help you to improve things. When triggers come up in the future, you will be able to steer your feelings and actions in different actions. 

4. Aim for 80%

When you're a perfectionist, you're aiming for 120%. You are going above and beyond and taking more time than you have to get things right. Drop your standard by aiming for 80% of your best. Doing this will help you understand that you don't need to go overboard to produce great work.

5. Recognize Your Weakness and Lean On Others

Admit that you have weaknesses. The problem with being a perfectionist is that its a lie because you're not perfect when you can realize that you can begin to lean on others where are strong where you're weak.

6. See The Opportunity in Failure

Failure sucks but its not all bad. Some lovely stepping stones come from things not working the way you want. It provides you with the opportunity to learn more and come back stronger than you were.

7. Develop a New Identity

Start to see yourself in a different light. If you keep seeing yourself as someone who struggles in this area, you will always be someone who does. Start changing the story that you tell yourself about yourself.

8. Find a Way in the Moment

Sometimes you will feel like you're inadequate because you are, and that is ok. That is a great way to challenge yourself and get better. Some would say that you need to take it until you make it. Keep trying and looking for new angles until the problems no longer exist.

How to Get Started

You don't have to overthink this or do anything crazy to get started. The first step is to look at yourself in the mirror and admit that you have an issue with "Never Good Enough" syndrome. If you can't admit there is a problem, you will never do the work to fix it.

Once you admit there is an issue, you can start to apply the 8 strategies listed above when the situation calls for them. Over time you will begin to see changes in your workplace habits. The goal is not to be perfect, its to do your job in the most effective way possible.


Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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