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[00:00:00] Kathi Burns: Hi there. I'm board certified professional organizer Kathi Burns. I'm really glad you're here. This podcast is designed for busy entrepreneurs just like you, who wanna take better control of your business and move forward with less stress and more success. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for.
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Now let's get into the show.
Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Organized Energized podcast. Today I'm speaking with Audrey Holst. Now we're gonna talk about perfectionism, and this is pretty cool because some people are stuck in perfectionism and we're gonna talk about how to rewire that perfectionism wiring your brain.
Audrey works with ambitious high performers to identify and address their pre burnout and toxic professionism so they can fully enjoy their careers and their lives. So Audrey's created the perfectionist archetypes and is the founder of Fortitude and Flow process. This process fusses, mindful and embodied practices to create sustainable transformation and get ourselves out of this perfectionism trap.
Her work goes beyond mindset and addresses perfectionisms impossible standards at their root cause because as Audrey says, perfectionism may have gotten you where you are, but it's not going to get you where you wanna be. So let's jump into it. Hi everyone. Today I'm with Audrey Holst, as and we're gonna be talking about perfectionism.
Are you a perfectionist? Have you been a recovered perfectionist? Let's talk about that. So welcome, Audrey.
[00:02:00] Audrey Holst: Thanks so much for having me, Kathi. I can't wait to talk.
[00:02:03] Kathi Burns: I know this is gonna be exciting, and let's not make it perfect. Okay, so talk to me about how did you get on this quest for helping people alleviate their perfectionism tendencies?
[00:02:17] Audrey Holst: Yeah. It's a lifetime practice is what I would say. The perfectionist piece actually came later when I was in my, later in my coaching sort of journey. So when I first started working with clients a lot of my clients were burning out. I had a lot of clients who were trying to make career changes because they were burning out. And so that was what I focused on for a long time, was this burnout aspect.
And I have done a lot of research on burnout. I've done a lot of work with burnout folks. I'm actually on a burnout panel right now with other people who are working around burnout. Burnout when I started digging into it and I started writing my book. I was like, burnout is not the, it's like not my forte.
Like I know a lot about it. I've had a lot of experience with it, with people that have had it, but there's something else and there's something before. So when I started digging into like the commonalities of the people I really enjoyed working with this perfectionism piece kept coming up over and over and over again.
And so that's when I started to hone in. I was like, oh, this is what I wanna work with this perfectionism piece, because it's part of the body, it's part of the nervous system. It's part of the human experience. It's a survival technique. And that was like big into my background on the body and the nervous system and movement and yoga and meditation and all like a holistic human being experience. And that's when I started to get really excited and really dug into into the work that I do now.
[00:03:42] Kathi Burns: That's exciting. So what did you come up with? Do you think perfectionism starts with this, I guess from when we're very young, or do we grow into it? What's your viewpoint on that?
[00:03:53] Audrey Holst: Yeah, so I did a series of interviews with people who are self-proclaimed perfectionist. It was over 60 interviews with people who were like, Hey, yes I actually just reached out and I thought I'd get maybe a few people that were interested in talking with me about their perfectionism and 60 folks later within the span of maybe two or three weeks of qualitative interviews. Every single person that I talked to had some sort of origin point in when they were younger that they could point to, to say, oh yeah, perfectionism started here. And so through my research and through my clients and through my work, to me, perfectionism is essentially a survival technique that people get wired into their system and it brings them through.
And there are certain things that nurture that and amplify it and things that start to diffuse it. So some people, you can see how their lives starts to diffuse it, how it starts to become less prevalent as they get older, and then other people, depending on maybe the work that they go into.
For instance, I work with a lot of people that are in law that really amplifies perfectionism. There was not a single person that I talked to that was like, you know what? I hit age 30 and I thought, perfectionism sounds like something I haven't tried yet. Let me try that. Everybody had some sort of origin story about when they were little and had very clear memories of some original pieces that they were like, yeah, that's where it started. I'm very clear on that.
[00:05:18] Kathi Burns: That's so funny. I'm taking a course right now for unconsciousness and a lot of the stuff that happens with us happens, when we're three to five years old and it just gets ingrained right there and it's Ooh, okay, yeah, that'll be perfect this time. And I, I love the fact that you differentiate though, that, people who get into the careers where you have to be by the law, so to speak. Dot the I's cross the Ts, right? In that type of business where you'd be scared into perfectionism and especially if you didn't have that tendency to start out with, it'd be really very scary to think, oh, I could really screw this one up.
[00:05:52] Audrey Holst: Totally. Yep. Absolutely.
[00:05:55] Kathi Burns: Yeah. That's amazing. Okay, so what are the things that can help diffuse perfectionism? If you find, if anybody out there is struggling with this, which I know a lot of you are, because you're my tribe what are some of your tips, Audrey, that you could diffuse a perfectionism instinct?
[00:06:10] Audrey Holst: The first thing is just starting to notice, just noticing that it is an aspect of your experience day-to-day. Starting to figure out what some of the, signs and symptoms of perfectionism could be, because this is another conversation I have with people where they'll say I'm not a perfectionist because I'm not perfect enough to be a perfectionist and it shows up different ways for different people. I've identified five archetypes that people fall into, that categories that people fall into in terms of perfectionism. Some people will say my desk is a mess. And it's that's okay. That doesn't mean that you do not, but they're dealing with all of these other things, how they're showing up in a particular way and their levels of procrastination around not doing things cuz they wanna do it either 3000000% the right, better than everybody else, or they're not gonna do it at all. This sort of all or nothing kind of thinking this survival behavior. So once people start to notice it, that's the first piece because they wanna fix it. But first you just gotta look around, observe it, just see what you're dealing with. And because of my understanding and my work with perfectionism, seeing it as being wired within the body, a lot of the work that we start doing is just noticing, noticing the environment, noticing our physicality, starting to understand that there is this whole world inside of us, it's always communicating with us.
But perfectionism starts to put these very weird lenses on what our body communicates to us, and it starts to create these interpretations, meaning making right our body. We start to think, oh, this feeling means this about me, or this sensation means this about me. And so starting to get people more plugged into like what it is to be them and how it feels to be them. And starting to pull apart some of that the meaning making. We call that noticing and discernment in the fortitude and flow process. That's a huge start to like untangling and rewiring some of these things.
[00:08:02] Kathi Burns: That's really interesting. I find there's a lot of trigger points for people. I think that 's spot on. Talk to me about how you handle your week. So as someone who works with people who somehow have clients that they won't, unless he can do it absolutely perfectly, they don't wanna do it. How do you have them handle their week? As far as their flow of their work business processes?
[00:08:26] Audrey Holst: When I'm working one-on-one with people, it's a very individual process. It's figuring out, okay, where, where do they have space? Where do they not have space? Where do they have to do, their deepest work. A lot of people try to get some of that deeper stuff done like first thing in the morning before they dive into their day. Because once things get, once things get going, it's very difficult to create that space for that deeper work.
Figuring out how e people's energy goes. Some people have more energy in the afternoon, some people have more energy in the evening. Figuring that out. Figuring out the things that really create that, like create stress in them and figuring out are there ways to mitigate this? Are there tools, are there, technology, sometimes people will try to willpower their way and we'll just be like, Hey listen, there's a tool for that.
I don't believe in willpower. I think it's bs. I don't like that at all. So we always find ways to like work with how somebody is built and anytime we make change, it has to be small, doable, and experimental. Sustainable. That is the most, as the best way that I've found, especially when we're changing things that are in the body to get it on board and keep it going in a positive way.
[00:09:30] Kathi Burns: I love that small, doable, and implementable. You're talking my talk right there. If people don't see the path to do it in step 1, 2, 3 again, then especially if you're talking with perfectionists and they're like, wait a minute, I need to know step one, one point A, one point B, one point C, then you can talk to me about two.
[00:09:49] Audrey Holst: Right? And they're like, but if, but what if two doesn't work? Then we have to talk about plan A, B, and C that what we might do instead because the first one didn't work and that's why nothing happens because they've already made 15 different plans when the first one goes, in their mind doesn't work.
[00:10:03] Kathi Burns: Yeah, that's exactly why I ask you about the calendar and you know for, cuz I do time management a lot and you run upt it up against that. And I love the way that you also said, the biological clock, like I could never do a big project first thing in the morning. Forget about that stuff. I'm like a three to five big project person, and we're all different. We need to give ourself latitude to create our schedule based on our biorhythm. And so it sounds like you feel like perfectionism is also a chemical reaction within ourselves. That's something that, that can be changed. Can you talk a little bit further about.
[00:10:34] Audrey Holst: Yeah so there's been a lot of research done and a lot of the stuff that I like to talk about is the neuroscience around Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett's work, and she will talk about, the brain is, the brain makes meaning, let me back this up. Okay. If we think about things as our body as being, trying to be as efficient as possible, right? Our body needs wants to be really efficient. It doesn't wanna use, It has limited resources, right?
As much as we'd like to think of ourselves as robots, that we are just plugged into a wall, we can do anything we want to do. The reality is we have limited resources. We have limited energy. We're gonna have to sleep at some point. We're gonna have to eat at some point. We're gonna have to drink water at some point.
There are things that our body needs in order for us to keep going. . The thing that's important to understand is that the body wants to be efficient, which means these habits that we have wired into us are our efficient habits. They may not be the thing that we want, right? Even the way we have reactions to stuff feeling guilty, right?
People who get into these like little things of guilt. When I start to talk to people about starting to take time. Oh, but I feel guilty. Guilt is actually an efficiency response. Your body has gone at some point. It's efficient here to be guilty. So this is what, this is the association, A plus B equal C.
Here's the guilt. Boom. That's efficiency. So starting to get people to understand a lot of this stuff is literally just habit that the brain and the body have put together. It doesn't mean anything. It's not meaning making, right? We don't have to make meaning. We don't have to put concepts on top of it.
So let's break it down to its basic thing where the body has decided, okay. This, this particular association. So one of the things that perfectionists experience a lot more than the typical population is chronic stress, because they have these associations, these stressors. What ends up happening with chronic stress is you end up having cortisol, which we talk about it as a stress hormone.
What it really is an energy hormone firing because your body thinks, oh, last time this thing happened, we needed extra energy. So now your body is firing off this hormone in places that it doesn't need to. And that creates negative effects over time. So this is where like starting to become a little bit more conscious of these, efficiencies the body has built in.
In the beginning, being a little bit less efficient because it's gonna be uncomfortable when we start to make changes. But over time, rewiring that so that, oh, okay, now your body is a new association. That becomes the efficient thing. And now we're not firing off cortisol in places where we don't need to.
[00:12:59] Kathi Burns: Wow, that's really interesting. Yeah, because I truly believe that a belief is only a thought that you keep thinking. Your reaction is something that's just been built into you over and over and it's nothing. Something you can change for sure. And I like your idea of, you can't willpower into anything either, which is so true. A lot of people try to willpower into everything and it's not water over a rock. It's not going downstream. It's way not going with the flow, you're just like, I can power through this because I can do anything and it's gonna be perfect and it's gonna get done. Whoa.
[00:13:29] Audrey Holst: And that's the mentality, right? Is I can, and there's pride. I can work harder than anybody else. I can push through, I can be the one that takes it on. And that attitude creates impact over time. .
[00:13:42] Kathi Burns: Yeah. A lot dis-ease happens for sure with that. So talk to me about one of your clients. When you think about your work what's the story that makes you the happiest of some, something you can think of that happened?
[00:13:54] Audrey Holst: So I had a client that when we started working together really would go through some rough periods, especially like when the winter started. So they had these as these associations of stress in the wintertime and that was something we were aware of and they they had a therapist and all that sort of stuff.
It was nothing where I was overstepping my boundaries as a coach. I remember having these sessions and this client was really good at just like implementing, right? Like we would go over a practice and they would just really dig their teeth into it and just go with it. And I remember we had talked about what we just talked about there where they said, oh, I've been feeling this particular way.
And it sent them down a rabbit hole, like this negative rabbit hole. Like I felt this way and then I was trying to figure it out and I like was super stressed and I couldn't figure out what, how to get out of it. And there was this whole narrative around it and I was like, hold up. Let's back up like what happened because you didn't just randomly wake up one day and all of a sudden everything went sideways. And so we backed it up to its origin point. And then I was like, oh. And we basically went step by step to be like this is what your body did, right? This happened and then your body did this and now your body has this association with when I feel this way, it means this.
I said, that's all. Your body is just making meaning of this thing. And they were like, oh my gosh. And it was like a light bulb went off and after having that little breakdown of, not oh my gosh, there's something really wrong with you that we need to like, that we have to dig into your childhood story. No, we didn't have to dig into anything. We just had to, I just had to be like, this is what your body is doing and this is why your body is doing it. Isn't that amazing? Doesn't that make so much sense? And they like, Bam. And it is amazing, how different and how well they've not only taken care of themselves, but the teams that they work on are like extremely well taken care of because they now know what it's like to be in them. They can see it in other people and they start to, they are working with their teams as human beings. So that was like extremely gratifying for me.
[00:15:54] Kathi Burns: What fun. What fun. So when these things happen, I'm on a big success kick right now in celebrations. How do you celebrate your successes? That's a huge win to have someone's life completely shift, under your guidance. What do you do to celebrate? I'm asking everybody this cuz it's the year of celebration.
[00:16:11] Audrey Holst: I love that. I think it's such a great question. It's something that I obviously celebrating with a client. Celebrating in-company is the best. Celebrating by myself is, it's not really it. I don't like to say Yes, Kathi. I like pour myself, I grab a bottle of champagne and have a part. No, I mostly it's, I like to share with my, I'll share with my husband like, oh man, I had a really good client today. I had such a good breakthrough. Or, tell a friend, or, I think the sharing of the success is really the thing that makes it exciting for me. It's nice to recognize it personally. It's not as exciting when it's just me by myself having a party.
[00:16:44] Kathi Burns: I absolutely love that. And no one's really brought up the sharing part yet out of all these podcasts that I've been doing, and because yes, celebrating is sharing and yeah. Good job, girl. That's a good answer. And it is so very true because celebrating yourself is okay, oh, good job, Kathi, you did such a great job. What does that even mean? It doesn't really mean anything. Of course, giving yourself a treat, allowing yourself to do a walk or a nice bike ride or something. Giving yourself something that I think expressing your gratitude for the good thing that happened and sharing it with someone is really the way to solidify that as a kicker.
[00:17:21] Audrey Holst: Yeah, absolutely. And when it comes to client success, I come from the place where I'm really excited for the client and I don't, it's like I celebrate them in those cases, I don't really get too much wow, Audrey, you really did it with that client. Like, I always give the credit to them cuz it's like I come with my tools, but honestly I could come with all the tools in the world and the person on the other side could do absolutely nothing and get absolutely nothing. So always huge credit to the people that do this.
[00:17:48] Kathi Burns: Yeah. And do you feel that your clients celebrate their successes?
[00:17:51] Audrey Holst: Yeah, and I actually have a I actually have a series of prompts that I give my clients to look at and to set and to see, to talk write out. Some of them like to journal, some of them like to talk it out of what they're really proud of what was difficult, but they did anyway. So I have a physical card that I will send to clients. Sometimes I'll put it in emails. People like to be reminded of it. So again, it's just that practice. Comes to the point, Kathi, too, of that rewiring is when your system is wired to look at what's wrong. That's survival wiring because it's much better to be terrified of a stick that might be a stake because you stay alive than it is to be like, oh, that's not a big deal. So giving the body places to see safety and what's good is actually really good thing that moves towards further rewiring, that perfectionism negative, looking for what's wrong and trying to mitigate things.
[00:18:41] Kathi Burns: That's great. I can tell that you're an awesome coach, Audrey. So if you had to look back and tell your 18 year old self something, what would you tell her? After knowing that you've worked with so many people and with yourself.
[00:18:54] Audrey Holst: Buckle up girl. I would say buckle up because it's gonna be a wild ride. That's all I would have to say to her. I think she probably would know that but I would just say, yeah whatever you anticipate is gonna happen, add like 50% to that. That's what we're doing.
[00:19:11] Kathi Burns: There you go. There you go. Now, how did you step into being a coach? What do you do before this?
[00:19:18] Audrey Holst: I had about 17 over 17 years in the yoga industry. So I was teaching yoga, managing yoga studios. I co-owned a yoga studio with a partner. So that was something that I spent a lot of my, a lot of my career in. And one of the things that I've always done, and I still do this, is I'm always looking to find ways to tie physical practices to practical everyday applications. So I was always in my yoga classes talking about like, how we bring this, what this has to do with your actual life, because it's great to have a yoga practice, but if you're not, if it's not integrating into the rest of your life, then we're missing something.
Like that's, I think that's really important to me. So one of my yoga students after class one day said, you should be a life coach. And I just laughed at her. I laughed at her cuz I had no, I had never heard of that phrase, but here I am, 11:00 PM at one night Googling life coach and I'm like, wow, actually this is it. I think I'm gonna do this. So I ended up getting my certification from IPEC and the rest is history
[00:20:22] Kathi Burns: I love that. I love that. And that was a client giving you permission to bloom, right? Blossom, yeah. Giving that little, yeah. Don't you love that? I love that when people help you, guide you down the path. And, that's what we do as, coaches or organizers or whatever we're guiding them as well. But when we get the guidances from an outside person, it's really cool. Organizing, talk to me about how you like to, what's your favorite way to stay organized? What do you use your tactic or your trick or your practice?
[00:20:52] Audrey Holst: So I am a person that needs a combination of digital and also tactile. I've always been a writer, so writing is really important to me. I've got my little notebook. So two tools that I would say I use a lot. One is my Google calendar. Literally nothing would happen in my life if it wasn't for that. I take all the stuff that my brain wants to hold. I put it on the calendar and I mean anything if I need to go, get my car inspected if I need to go pick, like any little thing that actually takes time to do, goes on the calendar, like everything goes on the calendar. I love it.
I had a paper planner for a while, but honestly, it just ends up being on the digital calendar so that tells me everything where I need to be, what is happening, what I need to be thinking about. Yeah. And then I do have so I had showed, I have this notebook, this is just called a, it's called a rocket book. I realized that I was using, speaking of paper, We were talking about paper before having lots of paper. I was somebody because I'd be taking notes all the time. I had paper everywhere and I hated it. And it was very disorganized and it made me crazy. And so I ended up finding this product called the Rocket Book, which is essentially it's like a whiteboard, but the texture is like paper and you use a pen. So then what I do is I can just erase it. Or what I do when I take client notes is everybody has their own little folders and I take a picture of it and it basically scans it in. It gives me that it helps my brain because I need to write down . But then it has a digital format and then I just erase it and then it's no more paper. Kathi, I feel like you would love that.
[00:22:23] Kathi Burns: Woo. I love it. I love it. I love it. Yeah. You do me proud, girl. That's awesome. Yeah, because we do need to take notes, and especially as writers, writing is very important. Not if you're gonna end up being just piled with paper, it doesn't then you got the equally stress factor happening in your life. Good job, girl. Okay, so what's the valuable free resource? I know you have something that you can offer the listeners here, what would you like to provide for them?
[00:22:49] Audrey Holst: I wanna give people the perfectionist archetype guide because this will allow people to start to figure out, okay, if you can relate to this perfectionism concept, if you're starting to feel like I don't know, it's just hitting a little too close to home. You can check out the different archetypes that I pulled apart with all of these the interviews and the research and the clients that I've had and figure out, okay where am I most identifying?
Once you can figure out where your starting point is, then you can start to figure out, okay, so what steps in the Ford student Flow process, where do I start? Where could I put my most of my energy to start? To unwind some of these things. And that just gives people like some, again, we talked about that small and doable action steps, and it helps 'em understand themselves a little bit more in the context of the work I do.
[00:23:35] Kathi Burns: I love that. Yeah. So if any of you have a sneaking suspicion that you might be falling under their perfectionism trap, go ahead and download the archetype. I'll definitely check it out. It sounds really interesting to see where I might fit and also, I think we all have a little bit of it. Oh, there's your kitty cat. Woohoo. . Love it. She had to come make a presence.
[00:23:54] Audrey Holst: She did. She did.
[00:23:55] Kathi Burns: That's a cat for you. Listen, it's been amazing. Is there anything that I should have asked you that we haven't discussed or anything that's on your mind that you really wanted to say during this cast?
[00:24:03] Audrey Holst: I think that, I think the biggest thing that I want people to understand is you can't BS your biology, right? I think that we try sometimes really hard to convince ourselves that I'm fine or convince ourselves that. Hold on one second. The cat is, I see her making some bad decisions right now, and it's chaos.
[00:24:23] Kathi Burns: Don't do it.
[00:24:25] Audrey Holst: I know. She's thinking about leaping off this desk onto a lamp, and so if chaos ensues, you'll all know what's happening. But see if I can finish my sentence to have my cat not to destroy my desk. So I would just say, yes, you can't BS your biology, and oh, there it goes.
[00:24:42] Kathi Burns: She did it.
[00:24:43] Audrey Holst: She did. She jumped to the top of the the lamp. The lamp tipped over, and there she went.
[00:24:47] Kathi Burns: Wow. Your light didn't even change. I'm sure she's fine.
[00:24:50] Audrey Holst: Oh my gosh. Kathi.
[00:24:52] Kathi Burns: So you're saying you can't bs your biology, that's what you're saying.
[00:24:55] Audrey Holst: You can't BS your biology. The more we try to tell ourselves I'm totally fine, no problem. I'm not angry. The more we do that, the more we are basically telling a fire alarm that there's no fire when in fact the roof has just collapsed. So we have to start to get on board with, I am a human being. I do have limitations, I do have needs, I do need resources, right? All of these things that are very difficult to get on board with, but once you do, it's life changing.
[00:25:30] Kathi Burns: Yay. I love this.
[00:25:33] Audrey Holst: Thanks for sticking through the chaos, Kathi, that was just wildest.
[00:25:36] Kathi Burns: I think that's great how that happen. I love the way you said she's gonna make a bad decision, and I'm like for who? Because she had a lot of fun doing the leap and land and bounce. It's like telling cats you're making a bad decision is just like silly. Actually it was a great decision because it gave us something to laugh at and I wish, I would've loved to seen it actually. Because you knew she was going to do that.
[00:25:59] Audrey Holst: I could see the coil. The coil, the end coiling. I'm like, oh, she's leaping here she goes.
[00:26:06] Kathi Burns: It's like when cats climb up Christmas trees, it's oh, I don't think so. And they're like, but this is the best thing ever. I had a cat climb up my Christmas tree and it actually completely crashed. Lights and everything. The cat was fine. One ornament was broken and my life was shattered for about 15 minutes. I just sat and you gotta be kidding me.
[00:26:27] Audrey Holst: It had to happen during the episode on perfectionism, Kathi. This is how we do a perfect podcast episode, chaos and all.
[00:26:36] Kathi Burns: I love it. I absolutely love it. Thank you. That was a little gift from the universe for us. So there you have it, folks. This life's never perfect, and all you can do is laugh and just pivot. Yes, change course and actually enjoy it.
[00:26:49] Audrey Holst: That's it right there. You got it.
[00:26:50] Kathi Burns: I love the fact that you were a yoga instructor and then yoga, and then you know, the integration because I think the best yoga instructors or Pilates instructors I've ever had, talk about the mind body talk about more than just the movement. What's really happening with you. When you're in this process and how do you continue that flow forward throughout the week? Cause that's super important. So it's been a pleasure. I've had so much fun. Everybody make sure you download that little task and see what kind of perfectionist you might be, if any.
Maybe you're not any at all. Maybe not a lot, but. Maybe someone you knew in life is and you can just pass it on. I'm sure we all know a few of those. Anyhow thank you so much. It's been a pleasure guys. I'm signing off for the week and I will see you next week. Same time, same bat channel and thank you, Audrey.
[00:27:39] Audrey Holst: Thank you so much, Kathi. This is the joy.
[00:27:41] Kathi Burns: Absolutely.
Hey, thanks for listening to this podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and if you want to hear more, feel free to subscribe on the platform of your choice. Also, if you feel so inclined, I would truly appreciate a good rating from you to me. Have a stellar day.