Do you want to learn how to overcome perfectionism and enhance your well-being and performance in the workplace?
In the latest episode of the Happier at Work podcast, I had an enriching conversation with career coach and founder of JC Coaching and Consulting Jordana Confino about the transformative journey of finding fulfillment and well-being in the workplace. Jordana’s insights into overcoming perfectionism and prioritising inner well-being provided invaluable guidance for navigating the modern workplace.
Jordana emphasised the importance of aligning personal values with work tasks to foster a sense of identity and intrinsic meaning, and how cultivating self-compassion is a powerful tool for enhancing well-being and performance.
We discussed the impact of perfectionism, and Jordana shared her personal struggle which led to burnout and a loss of personal connection. Her story shed light on the pervasive impact of overachieving behavior and the toll it takes on well-being and relationships.
Our conversation emphasised the need for organisations to prioritise employee well-being, the impact of perfectionism in demanding industries, and the growing recognition of the need to address well-being in the legal industry.
Jordana’s inspiring journey serves as a reminder of the importance of self-compassion, values alignment, and addressing perfectionism in the pursuit of happier and more fulfilling work experiences.
The main points throughout this podcast include:
- Finding fulfillment and well-being in the workplace
- Invaluable guidance for navigating the modern workplace.
- The importance of aligning personal values with work tasks to foster a sense of identity
- Pervasive impact of overachieving behavior and the toll it takes on well-being and relationships.
- The need for organisations to prioritise employee well-being
Connect with Jordana
Self-Compassion Guide: https://www.jordanaconfino.com/self-compassion-guide
Values Discovery Guide: https://www.jordanaconfino.com/values
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien [00:00:02]:
Jordana, you’re so welcome to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m so delighted to have you as my guest. I know we’ve spoken a couple of times at this stage, and there’s no shutting us up once we get started. We’re having a really great chat. Guest. All really interesting stuff, all really related to creating happier working environments. Do you want to let listeners know a little bit about your background and how you got to doing what you’re doing today?
Jordana Confino [00:00:24]:
Guest. Yeah. Absolutely. And thank you so much for having me on. I’m so excited to be here and continuing continuing our conversation. Guest. So, how did I get to be doing what I’m doing today? Well, basically, I am doing what I’m doing now because I guest. Desperately wish that someone would have done this for me and told me about all of this back when I was honestly, it would have been helpful guest.
Jordana Confino [00:00:51]:
Early in college, I think. But when I was in college and law guest. School and starting out in my career, I think the best description for me could be just a raging overachiever who, You know, I was I went straight through from Yale College to Yale Law School, wore my perfectionism as a badge of honor. Guest. I was just really committed to doing all of the shiny, successful things that I thought that I should be doing. And I was actually really good at guest. Doing doing those things and kind of accomplishing the goals and collecting the gold stars that I thought that I wanted. And so that was what I did for guest.
Jordana Confino [00:01:34]:
A number of years, and it was eventually on that path that I hit a sort of breaking point where I had achieved, you know, top grades at Yale College and Yale Law guest. Prestigious federal judicial clerkships, big law job offer, all of the things that I thought that I wanted, and I was Felt like I was dying on the inside, and I really just hit this intense burnout. But, also, even before I burned out, just kind of this guest. Of disenchantment and demoralization in everything that I was working so hard to achieve. I was getting it, and none of it was actually making me guest. Happy. And looking around, I saw in the legal profession that that that wasn’t unique to me. And I was like, what is going on? No one even seems to think that they should be guest.
Jordana Confino [00:02:26]:
Or could be happy in their work. And so at that point, I it sounds ridiculous, but it’s guest. True. This is a number of years ago. It was a last gasp Google search on how to be happy that led me to discover positive psychology in the first guest place, which is the science of human flourishing. It’s what I now teach and really revolve my coaching practice around. And I ended up taking a course on guest. Yes.
Jordana Confino [00:02:52]:
Because I just really wanted to know how to be happy. And what I everything I learned in that positive psychology course completely blew my mind and was the guest. Complete opposite of everything that I believed about how to be happy and how to be successful. And so after going through that, guest. A light bulb went off in my head. I you know, the the overachiever, the perfectionist student, guest. I ended up pursuing my certification in positive psychology. I wanted to learn more, and I decided that really all high achieving guest.
Jordana Confino [00:03:26]:
Need to know this, and none of them do. And so it was at that point that I decided to step out of law practice and really devote my career guest. To making this information more accessible to other students and other professionals in law and other super cutthroat intense guest. Industries so that they could not only avoid burning out and fleeing their careers like I did, but actually Figure out how to build sustainable, satisfying, and really successful careers that they love as opposed to our just guest. Surviving on a daily basis.
Aoife O’Brien [00:04:06]:
Yeah. I think everything that you’ve said there, Jordana, is relatable, especially to me. I can absolutely relate to everything that you’re saying, but I’d love to take a little step back for a second and get an understanding of guest. Why? Like, where did that inner drive actually come from? So you have this inner drive that got you to a stage where you were just kinda looking around, then you’ve reached Everything that you wanted, and you’re looking around going, I this doesn’t feel like I thought it would feel. Why do I feel like this? And how can I actually be happy? But where did that inner drive come from to keep kinda going and to to pursue those outward, guest. I outward what’s the word I’m looking for? Those outward marks of success.
Jordana Confino [00:04:53]:
Yeah. Guest. It’s it’s a really interesting question, and it’s something that I wondered about for a long time until I actually went back and guest. Kind of connected the dots through history working with a therapist, and a coach. And I realized that because when I was younger, when I was a little kid, guest. I was, like, this free creative spirit. I wanted to be an actress and a performer and to work guest. At SeaWorld part time, and I was, like, constantly doing all of these creative, imaginative things.
Jordana Confino [00:05:25]:
And fast forward 20 years and guest. Could not be a more different person. Like, I had no ounce of fun or play or creativity at all, and I had just gone to this guest. Totally polar opposite extreme. And there were I even remember when I was in first starting out very first starting out in high school, guest. I got a few grades on, my geometry test that or geometry test, and my parents are like, oh, guest. You know, maybe you need some, like, a a learning tutor or, like, a learning coach or something to help you because you’re not really focused enough on your classes, guest. And so very different than who I became.
Jordana Confino [00:06:06]:
And what happened in that freshman year of college was act I’m sorry. My freshman year of high school was that, guest. Basically, my father got really, really sick, and it was really, really scary and completely outside of my control. Guest. And, again, I didn’t realize this at the time, but looking back, I see it was almost like you said, like, there was a a switch flipped. Guest. And after that, I never got anything less than an a, basically, on a test ever again. I just became so intense about guest.
Jordana Confino [00:06:39]:
Studying. And what I realized was that when I really focused in, if as long as I worked hard enough and was diligent enough, which I just became guest. Super willing to do. I can almost make my grades perfect, and I could bring home those perfect grades. And I think I guest. Felt like, oh, well, this will make my parents happy, and, like, this is something that I can control, and this is, like, this is how I can be the good daughter. This is how I can be the good guest. Girl, fast forward to college, I didn’t think at that point, you know, having been valid to Korea in my high school, I didn’t think I can get more intense.
Jordana Confino [00:07:16]:
Guest. Then I had a horrible breakup. My the beginning of my 2nd year of college, and, again, it felt like Things were spiraling out of control, and I was feeling bad about myself, in this case in particular. I actually doubled down again and became even more intense about my studying and my drive at that point. And so looking back in time, I’m seeing guest. Things that I couldn’t control, coupled with me feeling bad about myself, and I think that I just identified at some point the way that the only thing that I guest. Control. And the only way that I can really prove my worth and my value and show up as this good girl that guest.
Jordana Confino [00:07:56]:
People love and they appreciate, and, you know, feel is worthy in the world is by perfecting guest. My work. Like, that was the only thing that as long as if I tried hard enough, I could perfect. And so, really, guest. My whole identity came to revolve around that, and the the the problematic thing was that the more that my in order to perfect my grades, which became increasingly hard once I went from college guest. To law school where the the learning curve is just so much higher. I I basically it squeezed out the room for anything else, guest. And therefore, there were no there was nothing there was no other aspect of my identity at that point.
Jordana Confino [00:08:42]:
So it got to the point where I was like, well, if I don’t graduate With literally perfect grades from Yale Law School, then what do I have to show for myself? Like, that is who I am guest. At this point. And so everything became so bound up in that that the stakes felt so guest. Hi. And I think that was really how I got to that breaking point that I did relatively early. Comp I feel like a lot of people get guest. Farther into their careers before they completely burn out, and I was pretty young, but I think it’s because I was just so intense. Guest.
Jordana Confino [00:09:16]:
Aoife O’Brien [00:09:16]:
I think there’s some super interesting insights there. It’s the when things are outside of your control, finding something that you can control, realizing guest and that you’re rewarded for it because the teachers will praise you, the lecturers, your parents. All of this outward praise then is reinforcing of this type of behavior, but it’s fantastic that you have those insights. And I hope that for anyone who’s listening today, that has experienced that that they can maybe recognize that in themselves. Guest. If they haven’t done that work yet, maybe take this as an opportunity to at least start a conversation with someone, be that a coach or a therapist, to work through some of that perfectionism stuff. Yeah. And I I just wanna
Jordana Confino [00:09:59]:
oh, sorry. No. I just wanna point out there because I think if anyone is listening in this that guest. Resonates with them the important like, I felt the the final and really the most important realization at the end of all this is that guest. It makes sense when this starts, when this perfectionism and this overachieving take fruit as a way of guest. Trying to gain and maintain control, but then what happens is that it becomes so deep seated that then guest. You ultimately lose all control because then then this perfectionism, which is really just like this intense fear based guest. Motivation, it becomes all consuming, and we ultimately become slaves to it.
Jordana Confino [00:10:45]:
And that’s where we see, like, continuing to guest. Push forward and trying to do more and achieve more even when we are so clearly guest. Breaking down or trying to, like, beat and blame and shame ourselves into performing, and to the point that it becomes guest. Becomes so detrimental for our health, for our well-being, but also our performance. We could talk more about how that how that ends up happening. And so then we lose control, but the problem is because our we’re so culturally conditioned to believe that guest. Working more is always better Yeah. That we can’t see that actually guest.
Jordana Confino [00:11:27]:
We are have lost control, and we’re now like, we’re no longer making a decision that says, guest. I want to do this thing because it’s in my best interest. We are saying, I need to keep working. I need to keep pushing. I need to keep doing this. Guest. I need to overextend even more in order to try to take the edge off this completely all consuming anxiety that I guest. Have anyways, but the problem is that that just ends up compounding the pain and the anxiety.
Jordana Confino [00:11:55]:
And so it’s like, start as many things. You know, it starts as this protective thing when it guest. Serves us at one point, but then it really spirals out of control. And so it’s just super ironic that our way of Getting the control ends up then, you know, flipping, and that’s how we lose our control.
Aoife O’Brien [00:12:13]:
Yeah. So it sounds like you guest. Created this entire identity for yourself that you couldn’t then get away from. So you’ve created this identity around high achievement, high performance, And perfectionism that if you suddenly were to take the foot off the pedal to some degree, that Your identity is then lost or you have this fear or anxiety around not performing. And then who are you if you’re not the high performer? Would that be kind of fair to say?
Jordana Confino [00:12:42]:
Guest. Yeah. Com completely. And there’s this there’s this thought, well, like, I’m exhausted, but I can’t but I can’t stop because then I’ll be nothing and, you know, I’ll lose all willpower. And, of course, it doesn’t it doesn’t work that way at all, but it it feels that way. And when you get guest. So used to always giving a 150%. You you can never prove to yourself that you could guest.
Jordana Confino [00:13:08]:
Approach it in a different way and get the same, if not better results because you’ve never let yourself even try it. Guest. And then even once you start seeing all of the costs, so the costs from burnout, the costs from just I mean, per it’s so interesting because I feel we always associate perfectionism with better. More is better. But once you’re guest. Whenever you’re trying to do higher level work where you actually need some creativity and, like, space guest. For really, you know, deeper problem solving or generating new ideas or building relationships in any way, so not just guest. Grinding out work, then all of a sudden, like, if you are spread too guest.
Jordana Confino [00:13:55]:
Or if you’re not giving yourself any time to rejuvenate or process or investing in any of the aspects of well-being, guest. Relationships, meaning, purpose, engagement, physical health that have actually scientifically been shown guest. To enhance cognitive functioning, problem solving creativity, like, you can’t possibly be doing your best work, but you guest. Even if you understand that at a rational level, you can’t take your foot off the gas because because of this guest. Internal compulsion to just keep doing and achieving for fear of what might happen If you just let yourself pause for even a minute.
Aoife O’Brien [00:14:38]:
Yeah. We’ll we’ll come on to some of the solutions around this in a second, but I’d love to guest. Understand a bit more about the day to day experience that you’ve had when you’re in that situation. What was going on for you, guest. You know, from an activity perspective, from a mental perspective, from a relationship perspective, I’d love to understand what the re daily reality was guest for you.
Jordana Confino [00:15:01]:
Oh my goodness. Well, from an activity perspective, there was just a lot of pushing and work and guest. Pretty much nothing else. I would I mean, I used to work guest. 12, 14 hour days constantly being guest. Doing something that was deemed productive. And, of course, you know, it there were so many instances and hours where it really wasn’t all that guest. Active because I was so drained.
Jordana Confino [00:15:32]:
And rather than letting myself take a break or do something restorative, I would just keep guest. Pushing forward. And so that was really what my day is consumed. How did I feel on the inside? I was, guest. Eva, I am not lying when I would say I was so lonely it physically hurt. Oh my gosh. All and just going backwards guest. All my number one value, which I did not figure out until, you know, this was around the right before The positive psychology or the Google or how to be happy Google search.
Jordana Confino [00:16:05]:
Finally, I did a values discovery exercise where I actually identified what my core values guest. Are, a question that I literally never asked myself in my life before. And I identified what my core values are, top ones, love, connection, guest. Density. And I realized that everything I was doing was not only not furthering those values, but was actually completely contrary to them Because the work that I was pursuing didn’t really evoke feelings of love and connection. I was on the path to becoming a criminal prosecutor, so, you know, guest. You figure riddle me that. Right? But also I had completely blocked out any possibility of having a personal life Because I was working all the time, I couldn’t wouldn’t let myself create the space for that.
Jordana Confino [00:16:51]:
But what I’ve always wanted more than anything guest. Is to feel loved and valued, and there is nothing that is more important to me than my interpersonal relationships. Guest. And so I was I feel like I was working so hard to try to feel guest. Worthy and good enough so someone could love me, so someone could make me feel cared for, and yet I wasn’t talking to anyone outside of guest. The people I was working with. And then even once, there was this so this is you know, I’ll give you the sparkness of this because it’s a long story, but there was this magical period guest. In between, when I took the bar exam and when I started my 1st judicial clerkship, I had these 3 months off.
Jordana Confino [00:17:41]:
And I knew that I was starting the super prestigious clerkship also, by the way, where I was gonna be expected to work from 6 AM to 10 PM, guest. 5 days a week, 8 to 8 Saturdays Sundays. Like, basically, I was going underground for a year. So I knew that I had that lined up. So I had this, like, magical 3 month period where nothing was expected guest. There was no work, and I met my then husband during that period. And I remember I was like, okay. I’ve got 3 months to make this This guy fall in love with me before I go underground for the next 2 years.
Jordana Confino [00:18:11]:
And I did. We started dating, And then I kept him, but I hadn’t addressed any of this stuff yet. So I had this, like, excellent 3 month free free period, and then it went back to normal life. And, guest. I mean, he is just the world’s most patient man, thank goodness, because he stuck around. But I I guest. The I I I mean, no space for that relationship basically that year because I couldn’t at that point. Like, I physically couldn’t bring myself guest.
Jordana Confino [00:18:39]:
To do it, to push back against the work or the what the way that I thought that I had to approach the work, and guest. It was just so ironic because all I wanted was to feel loved and valued, and there was just this compulsion that the way to make that happen would be guest. Working more in a which had the direct result of me not creating any space for the relationships, but also wearing myself guest. Down so much that when I was with other people, I was like this shadow version of myself, because I had no energy and I was so guest. And so it was just so so ironic. And then also just to kind of complete the picture of what things looked like, I my physical health was disastrous guest during that time. So ulcers, chronic pain, unexplained chronic pain for the longest time that I went to all sorts of traditional doctors, Couldn’t figure it out, and it was ultimately when I started doing mind body medicine and really doing some coaching strategies around The anxiety and the perfectionism and that the pain started to reduce, and it’s wild. There’s actually such guest.
Jordana Confino [00:19:50]:
Close links between perfectionism and not only anxiety, depression, eating disorders, things that people know about, but also chronic pain. And it’s guest. So interesting how these, like, self critical, self judging, self doubting thoughts guest. Not only take a toll on our mental health and on our sleep, but also on our physical health as well.
Aoife O’Brien [00:20:14]:
Guest. Yeah. It’s I mean, everything that you’re saying is kind of alarm bells for me, and I hope that if there’s anyone listening today, guest that they can really take a lot from your experience. Before we move on, I know we said we’d talk about solutions, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on industry. So I know you come from the legal background. My perception as an outsider having never worked in that area is very cutthroat. And I know in previous conversation, we talked about suits, and you’re like, it’s nothing like suits. Kind of, you know there’s all of the maybe the bad parts associated with it.
Aoife O’Brien [00:20:48]:
But But what other like, to me, it’s kind of it screens professional services where you’re dealing with very sorta high stakes, high end type guest of clients. It could be the big accountancy firms. I’m thinking investment banking, guest. Consultancy firms, things like that. Any any thoughts on on where this tends to show up Yeah. Generally?
Jordana Confino [00:21:12]:
Yeah. And I think that guest. You’re you’re right. So, I mean, the law, it it it is it is cutthroat. And I think that but so are so is business, so is guest. Finance, so is consulting, and I think that so is medicine. And I think that any of these super intense, high stakes, guest. Demanding industries, they really glorify perfectionism.
Jordana Confino [00:21:32]:
So not they glorify it, they guest. Rewarded. And they say, like, these and so when you ask someone, like, what makes you what does it mean to be a perfectionist? What most people will say is, like, oh, well, being super driven, super type guest. A commitment to excellence, meticulous attention to detail, and all of these things are demanded, guest. And rewarded in these industries. What they don’t say is this what I actually believe is the root of all perfectionism, which is this deep seated fear guest. Of not being good enough and not being worthy and responding to that and trying to drive yourself forward through self criticism guest. And self flagellation and self doubt.
Jordana Confino [00:22:13]:
And the problem is is that these industries, they, Like, perfectionism can work really well for people for a time until they burn themselves out or until they wanna rise into higher guest. Level positions because for the reasons that we explained earlier, perfectionism can make you a really good worker bee, but it prevents you from doing that higher level work. But So many of these industries kind of work on a burn and churn model, especially the legal profession where they’ll take associates. Most Associates leave between 3 5 years because they’re completely burned out, and then they bring in new associates and they do the whole thing again. And so it’s guest. Really not, a good model for business or for the well-being of their employees. And so I think guest. One of the issues, though, that really perpetuates these things is guest.
Jordana Confino [00:23:12]:
The lack of humanity within these organizations. And so, of course, anyone who’s gotten to the top, guest. They’ve made a 1000 mistakes in their careers because humans make mistakes and for good reason. Guest. Making mistakes, it’s inevitable, and it’s also how we learn and grow and actually develop our capabilities. Guest. But rather than talking about that and inculcating a growth mindset culture And a culture where people feel able to admit their mistakes so that they can We receive guidance and support on how to move forward or on how to rectify the mistake. That is really guest.
Jordana Confino [00:23:56]:
Where if when when people we need that psychological safety to be able to acknowledge our invulnerability in the workplace because doing that actually enables us To make ourselves stronger and better. And I think that that is just so lacking in so many industries where there’s kind of this myth that everyone needs to be these, like, guest. Perfect invulnerable robots that never make mistakes, never feel stressed, never feel sad, guest. And just keep churning and churning and churning, and that just ignores 1, it ignores, guest. Like, all of the pains that people go through that if we recognize them and normalize them, it will take away from these feelings of unworthiness guest. An imposter syndrome that really feed perfectionism, but also it can open us up to guest. Fueling all of these other positive sources of motivation. And so going back to what What I said about perfectionism, it’s really driven by you know, we try to use self criticism and self judgment to and fear To make ourselves work hard enough.
Jordana Confino [00:25:03]:
So it’s it’s like it’s almost like perfectionists, I say, are never playing to win. They’re playing not to lose. So we’re working, working, working guest. So that we don’t fail or disappoint others. So it’s not like we’re working, working, working to accomplish something good that will then make us feel great. We’re working, working, working guest. So that we don’t feel bad. That is not a good high quality source of motivation.
Jordana Confino [00:25:26]:
Like, behavioral science will show you that that is not how to get the best guest. People. What is is show them how they can play to win by tapping into their values, giving them a sense of meaning and purpose, making them feel like they belong guest. Long and a part of a team that’s invested in them and cares about them, that’s how you can feel about our performance. And that, I feel like, is so lacking in so many of these industries. Guest.
Aoife O’Brien [00:25:49]:
Yeah. Do you do you see things starting to change even at, you know, very slowly or very, guest. You know, small little pockets, but do you see things starting to change at least?
Jordana Confino [00:26:02]:
Yes. Absolutely. And In the legal industry and and more broadly. So in the legal industry, really finally in, like, around 2017, the legal industry started to pay attention. And, unfortunately, it took a number of just really tragic suicides that were guest. That were publicized in the media and the the ABA at that point created a national task force on lawyer well-being that basically issued this report saying enough is enough. We need to pay attention to this, and stakeholders at all levels need to be doing things to cultivate and attend guest. To the well-being of their employees.
Jordana Confino [00:26:40]:
And there was an ABA well-being pledge that was created. And slowly, slowly, slowly, guest. Organizations are starting to pay attention, I think, because some of them care about the well-being of their employees. Some. Guest. And also more research is coming out showing why this is actually really good for business and really important for organizations’ bottom line. So investing guest. In the well-being of your employees, it’s not just important as a humanitarian matter, which it is, but also, like, this is how you’re actually gonna get the best out of your people.
Jordana Confino [00:27:11]:
This is how they’re guest. Stay longer and perform way better while they’re there. And so increasingly, you’re star we’re starting to see guest. Changes and, of course, you know, like anything, there’s some organizations that are, like, really making excellent changes and some that are guest. Making really small changes and some that haven’t made any yet, but you’re starting to see a change and another change that we’re seeing. And I know this because I also I’m still working full time. I’m sorry. Not full time.
Jordana Confino [00:27:41]:
I’m still teaching my positive lawyering course, guest. One course per semester at the law schools, gen z and the current crop of employees coming out into the workforce, like, guest. They value this more, and they wanna go to organizations that care about these things and actually care about them and are demonstrating that care about them in a meaningful way, and they’re voting with their feet. And so we’re seeing more employees across industries saying, I wanna go to a place that really cares about my well-being and is, like, putting its money in its where its mouth is, and then we’re seeing guest. Organizations responding as well. And, yes, the change is slow, but it’s it’s starting and it’s increasing, by the year, which is great. Guest.
Aoife O’Brien [00:28:27]:
It’s brilliant, and it is good for business. And from everything that you’ve just said, reducing burnout at work and facilitating guest. That more creative thinking by having space within your day to do that thinking, to to build those relationships as well. We haven’t talked really about guest. Solutions, you’ve floated a few ideas, but do you have a specific framework or specific kind of process or solutions that you talk about with your clients? Guest. Yeah. Absolutely. So with
Jordana Confino [00:28:56]:
with my clients, I feel like there’s 2 things that are really, really important guest. Starting points for starting to rein in this perfectionism that was their typical approach to work. And so one of them is values alignment. And so that’s just identifying guest. What your values actually are. And so I feel like for so many people, and this was certainly the case for me, they don’t even know what their values are because they’ve never thought about Anything except for, like, how do I impress? How do I prove my value, my worth? And so that’s where we get into, like, Only playing not to lose. How because you can’t play to win unless you know what winning means. And so first, identifying your values and what’s guest.
Jordana Confino [00:29:46]:
Really important to you. And how can you connect what you’re doing at work to those things? Or how can you just kind of increase guest. Your alignment with those values in your life so that you have a fuller sense of your identity so you don’t feel like you need to be Just like slaving away to prove your worth through this one thing. And, also, you know, it can open your eyes to, oh, your number one value is connection. Well, Well, to what extent are you connecting with your colleagues when you’re locking yourself away, ignoring everybody because you don’t have time to do anything but your work? Oh, that’s guest. Low. And what about your personal connections outside of work? Okay. That’s low.
Jordana Confino [00:30:24]:
And create that dissonance for people and then Creating really even just like little micro steps. So, like, how can you honor that value, you know, one point guest. More in your day tomorrow. And I always like to start with these micro steps, not like, oh, you need to throw out your job and start completely anew because For most people, that’s neither practical nor desirable, but there’s so many little things that we can make to better align our guest. Lives with our values, and then we if we start building those intrinsic feelings of meaning and guest. Purpose and connection will no longer feel so hollow. And what we’re doing with the perfectionist guest. Striving is we’re trying to fill this hollow hole that we have in us with this extrinsic achievements that are never actually gonna fill that hole.
Jordana Confino [00:31:16]:
So that’s one thing. The other thing which is, I think, actually the most powerful tool that anyone can use for both their guest. Well-being, but also their performance, and it sounds really counterintuitive, is cultivating self compassion. And this really goes to guest. What I was saying earlier about fear and self criticism and self doubt fueling motivation for guest. Perfectionist. And so so many of us have been really raised and culturized to believe that self flagellation is the best way to motivate ourselves. But, actually, it’s amazing.
Jordana Confino [00:31:53]:
There’s so much research showing that this is actually the opposite of the case. And so doctor Kristin Neff, who’s a leading expert on self compassion, has guest. Shown that our inner critics and beating ourselves up actually is really not conducive to motivation or performance Because what it does is it just de it it deflates our self confidence and our energy guest. And makes us so scared of making mistakes that we don’t even put ourselves out there. And so we are more likely to just opt out of any challenges that would guest. To actually further develop our skills and increase our performance because we’re just so obsessed guest with, like, looking good and looking like we’re not making mistakes. And so if we beat ourselves up every time we make a mistake, we just will never try again, which will guest. Stifle our growth.
Jordana Confino [00:32:46]:
But, also, when we are beating ourselves up on the inside or when we’re guest. Beating ourselves up, we’re saying, you’re not good enough. You’re gonna fail. What if you can’t do it? What this does is it inflames the guest. Guest. Hijacking. It actually turns off effectively turns off our prefrontal cortex. It stops it from operating.
Jordana Confino [00:33:14]:
And that and the prefrontal The cortex is a part of the brain that governs rational thinking and logic. And so when we are just guest. Berating ourselves or, you know, admonishing ourselves on network. What if we’re not good enough or we’re not good enough or we’re terrible or, you know, why couldn’t we try harder? Guest. We are literally preventing our brains from looking at the situation objectively and determining how we could improve, how we could move forward. And so what guest. Is showing is that if we adopt a self compassionate approach, if we acknowledge, like, oh, I’m anxious guest. Oh, I’m disappointed.
Jordana Confino [00:33:52]:
This is hard right now. Anyone would be feeling this way in these circumstances, But how can I just be kind to myself in this instance? And what would I say to someone else, a dear friend who I, you know, support unconditionally guest. If they were in my shoes, then how can I communicate that same kindness to myself? And what we think is that, oh, if we treat ourselves in this guest. Kind compassionate way. It’ll make us weak, lazy, and complacent. But what the science shows is it actually turbocharges our motivation. So Kristin Neff has guest. Shown in a whole variety of studies in all different contexts that people who respond to themselves in this compassionate way guest.
Jordana Confino [00:34:33]:
Actually have demonstrated much higher motivation and much greater ability to perform and stick with and overcome guest. Challenges. And so just to give you 2 completely different examples, 1 is students who get a bad grade on a test and respond to themselves with self compassion versus Self criticism are more likely to study harder and do better when they’re given an opportunity to retake it than the ones who respond with self criticism because the The ones with self criticism, they tell themselves, oh, I’m stupid. You know, I can’t do this. It’s pointless. Their guest. They’re or just like, what’s wrong with you? You should have done better. Study harder.
Jordana Confino [00:35:14]:
But they’re so emotionally drained and distracted guest. That they just don’t can’t put themselves forward in the same way. Same exact thing in the realm of behavioral health. People who Treat themselves with self compassion are much more likely to stick with exercise, healthy eating, smoking cessation regimens than people who try to motivate themselves with self compassion. And if they have a setback, they’re much more likely to get back on the bandwagon If they respond to self compassion rather than if they respond to self criticism. And so the science shows, like, it’s the opposite of being guest. Complacent or lazy, it actually fuels our motivation and our performance. And so self compassion, I think, is probably guest.
Jordana Confino [00:35:59]:
One of those things I know for me, I was like, absolutely not. I’m not gonna go anywhere near this because it’s so fluffy and, you know, it’s gonna make me lose my edge. Guest. And I know that’s the case for so many, especially people who consider themselves high achievers, especially in these intense industries. Oh my goodness. It is, guest. Like, the most potent superpower that anyone could cultivate for themselves. Brilliant.
Aoife O’Brien [00:36:22]:
Oh, I love that. I think, I want to bring up something. I’m not sure, Jordana, if we’ve talked about values before, but that’s something that really came through from the research that I did. It forms part a guest. Crucial, critical part of the Happier at Work framework. So I’m so glad you brought that up. And interestingly, what you were saying, like, that you Didn’t know what your values are. I think a lot of people don’t know what their values are.
Aoife O’Brien [00:36:46]:
I certainly didn’t when I still worked in an organization. I knew what the company’s values were, but I saw a huge disconnect between what the company said the values were and the behavior and the bureaucracy guest within the organization, a total mismatch. So if you’re lying about this, then what else are you lying about? That’s all I can kind of think of it as. Like, guest. There really there wasn’t a connection between what they spoke about and and how things were done, essentially. Not even how people behave, guest, but hey. Things were done. And one strong example of that that I think of is the word simple formed you know, that was one of the core values.
Aoife O’Brien [00:37:24]:
But it was the most guest bureaucratic organization I ever worked in. And it took me about 9 months, I’d say, to get up to speed with all of their systems guest and all of the relationships and all of that kind of thing. So I think understanding what your values are and and How you described it as how can you play to win when you don’t know what winning means? And winning is Getting to activate those values, getting to live those values on a day to day basis rather than just kind of blindly keeping going where you’re going. So, guest. Again, maybe another practical thing for someone to do is to assess what their values are. You mentioned that you took an assessment. Like, did you take guest. A a well known assessment, or how did you go by doing that?
Jordana Confino [00:38:10]:
Yeah. So at that time, it was just my therapist literally gave me a list of values. Guest. And, you know, she said It’s a workplace
Aoife O’Brien [00:38:18]:
support, isn’t it?
Jordana Confino [00:38:20]:
Check off all the ones that resonate with you, then narrow it down to your top 5, and let’s guest. Talk about it. I’ve I’ve subsequently actually developed a values discovery guide that I use with my clients and my students to help them kind of work guest. Through this process of, like, what are the values? What do they mean to you? Why are they important? To what extent are you honoring them? What are guest. Action steps that you could take to bring yourself in greater alignment. I think and I know there is so I have an assessment like that. I’m I’m sure you probably do too when you’re happier at work, and I think I Cannot emphasize enough how val valuable those are, but it’s so interesting that, guest. I mean, for me, the the fascinating one thing that was fascinating was I did that, and I identified the action as, like, okay.
Jordana Confino [00:39:06]:
I got the values. Guest. See the action steps, but then there’s actually doing them. Right? And for me, I guest. Wouldn’t do them, and that was when I realized, oh, I’ve lost control. I’ve ceded control to this deeply ingrained guest. Who now sees the writing on the wall, knows how wrong all of this is, and is yet still, like, guest. Doing all of these things that are contrary to our values, like, because she cannot stop, and that’s where I think adding the self compassion piece guest.
Jordana Confino [00:39:41]:
On because cultivating your unconditional self worth, I think, is the best antidote. Guest. And, of course, you need other things too. You need boundaries. There’s lots of other things that come in, but that’s the place to start guest. In terms of filling that hole of the fear so that you can then start taking those scary steps guest. Towards better honoring your values. Also, just what you said about the organizations before, you make such a great point.
Jordana Confino [00:40:10]:
When you’re trying to ascertain the values of an organization and whether they align with your own, don’t just look at the organization’s mission statement because what the organization says their Values are
Aoife O’Brien [00:40:21]:
Jordana Confino [00:40:21]:
May have little to nothing to do with what values it actually embodies. And, you know, so you do your Do your homework. Ask the right people the right questions when if someone is in the position of evaluating where they want to work rather than taking those things at guest. This value is so important.
Aoife O’Brien [00:40:40]:
Absolutely. A 100%. And, yes, I do a values piece. And it like I say, it forms a critical part of the Happier at Work framework. Yeah. Guest. But part of that is looking at whether or not the organization guest. Me is living their values, essentially.
Aoife O’Brien [00:40:58]:
So so they say one thing, is that the behavior that is being seen in the organize it with with the employees. You know? What is the firsthand experience of people in that organization? With a view to when you are joining an organization that you can Realistically assess whether that’s a good culture match for you. You know, they say one thing, but is that the the lived experience of this? Guest. I mean, we could probably talk all day about this whole concept around values, and I love this idea of self compassion. Guest. It’s something, again, that’s quite new to me in the last few years. And I love how you’re so honest and vulnerable about guest. You try to do this stuff, and you realize now you’re suddenly losing control.
Aoife O’Brien [00:41:42]:
And maybe you won’t get it right when you first start living in accordance with your values. And I think so many people are. We get kind of We go off track a little bit, and we lose sight of what our values actually are. And that’s why we’re so miserable at work a lot of the time. So for me, you’ve you’ve brought some really, really fantastic insights guest to that conversation and helping people to, like, maybe take an honest look and see, are you really happy doing what you’re doing? Are you guest, chasing and chasing to try and find full fulfillment from the external rather than taking a look inward, really understanding guest. What those core values are and whether you’re living in alignment. And it’s interesting you’re saying about connection. Like, connection, I that’s probably how we connected in the 1st place.
Aoife O’Brien [00:42:32]:
And, guest. You know, from the get go, we’ve just had these amazing conversations. Like, connection is really core part of who I am, and I need to remember that when I’m working alone, and I’m sure similar similar to yourself. You don’t have colleagues that you can connect with on a regular basis. So I think remembering those things is guest. It’s really, really important. Anything else that you wanted to share, Jordana, before we wrap things up for today?
Jordana Confino [00:42:55]:
Yeah. I’ll I’ll just guest. On that point, I’ll say it’s so important to recognize how many x even if you’re working in the best guest. Possible work environment whose that the the organization’s values are almost perfectly aligned with their own. There are so many external pressures that are guest. Constantly pulling us away from our values and towards these extrinsic things. And so I think I’m so glad that you mentioned that because guest. I think it’s so important to recognize, like, this isn’t a one and done thing.
Jordana Confino [00:43:27]:
Like, oh, I did the values thing. I identified my values. I’m being cheated. Guest. Now I’m good. I think that having a process of, like, writing those values down and then guest. Like, every couple months or even every month, like, or a couple times a year, whatever it is, checking in, pausing because, I mean, how often do we guest. Pause as opposed to just racing through our lives on autopilot.
Jordana Confino [00:43:53]:
Exactly. Never. And re like, reassessing yourself and being like, oh, actually, guest. I’ve been pulled away from this value. How can I get myself back? And not looking at that deviation and being pulled away as a sign that there’s something guest. Wrong with you or that it’s pointless and you shouldn’t be doing this. I think I’m always you know, I’m telling my clients, don’t try to perfect your perfectionism Recovery recognized that, you know, there’s ups and downs, and we can, you know, 3 steps forward, 1 step back, take the steps forwards, go back. Like, guest.
Jordana Confino [00:44:34]:
That there’s gonna that we’re gonna get pulled away and that when things get stressful, when things get busy, you know, we’re gonna revert to some of these evolutionary based guest. Protective defense mechanisms that aren’t actually serving us. That’s human. That’s what it means to be human, and that’s okay. We can’t necessarily control that entirely, but what we can control is how will we respond when it happens. And so, you know, if you notice, Oh, I had made all this progress, and now I see I’ve been, you know, pulled away from my values. I mean, take a take a take a hint from Kristen Neff. Treat yourself with some self compassion there.
Jordana Confino [00:45:10]:
Oh, how human of me. And then what’s one positive step that I can take in that direction? Guest. I think it’s this kind of continuous process of assessing and then just letting yourself recalibrate gently guest. Is really the way to make sustainable change
Aoife O’Brien [00:45:26]:
Jordana Confino [00:45:26]:
Aoife O’Brien [00:45:27]:
Yeah. No. Amazing. And one of the things that occurred to me as you were talking about that idea of the Self flagellation versus the self compassion is this idea of the fixed versus the growth mindset. So I think maybe guest if you’re stuck in this fixed mindset. And I’m also very aware that, you know, this is not from the original author of of the mindsets of Carol Dweck, but it’s more of me. What I’ve noticed in my life is I can be fixed in some specific areas and growth guest. Mindset in other areas.
Aoife O’Brien [00:45:58]:
Mhmm. But when we get things wrong and we we kind of criticize ourselves, then that’s guest. The fixed mindset coming out. Whereas if you try and, be aware of that, notice it, and then shift the thinking to, okay, What is one positive step that I can take? And then you’re looking at the learnings that you can take from that, giving yourself some self compassion and taking a Positive step forwards. And like you said earlier, Jordana, like, you know, skyrocketing or putting a kind of a rocket in it to really guest. Grow that motivation and and help you to, again, I don’t want to be going back to this. Oh my god. And then you’re hugely successful, but it’s more you’re able to guest.
Aoife O’Brien [00:46:38]:
Come back to your values and what’s really, really important to you rather than focusing on those external cues always. Yeah. Absolutely. Brilliant. Guest. The question I ask everyone who comes on the podcast, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Jordana Confino [00:46:54]:
I love this guest. Question. And I would say that being happier at work, I think it really involves I I mean, just going back to what we were talking about earlier, being in a job where you feel like you are guest. Fueled by intrinsic motivation. So you’re energized. You’re playing to win. You’re working because you guest. Obtain this gratification from a job well done on whatever it’s doing.
Jordana Confino [00:47:25]:
You enjoy the work itself or you enjoy the people that You’re doing it with you feel connected. You feel stimulated. You feel engaged. Not playing not to lose. So not a work where you are being driven by guest. Pressure, fear of not being good enough, or just chasing, you know, doing something just for the sake of monetary compensation. That’s a really hollow guest. Source of motivation.
Jordana Confino [00:47:48]:
And so, yeah, I would say a job where you feel invigorated and energized guest. And like you when you when you work each day, you’re you’re playing to win and really filling yourself up with those positive sources of gratification.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:02]:
Yeah. Brilliant. Guest. One thing that we haven’t touched on today, but it’s sort of, the undertone of that has been there, and I’m sure that we have spoken guest. This before is the idea of deferred happiness. So you’re doing all this work so that eventually you’re gonna get to a stage where you’ll look around, you’ll be happy with where you are, guest. And you’ll have the money, and you’ll have the prestige, and you’ll have this the outward success. And it’s just occurred to me as you were talking through that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:29]:
Guest. So for me, it’s now learning about enjoying the journey and enjoying what you’re doing on the way. And guest. I’m seeing this more and more and more, and I see more and more people talking about it and understanding it. So it’s not about deferring to, I’ll be happy when. I’ll be happy in the future. I’ll be, happy when this happens, when I get married, when I get promoted, when I, guest. Get divorced when I have kids.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:54]:
Whatever it might be, you’re you’re happy now, and you’re doing stuff that makes you happy now, guest. Not saying I’ll be happy in the future when x, y, and zed happens.
Jordana Confino [00:49:03]:
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:03]:
think this process can really help people to do that.
Jordana Confino [00:49:06]:
Guest. Absolutely. Oh my gosh. This is a whole other podcast episode. But what I will just say on this point is when we beat
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:12]:
ourselves talk about it.
Jordana Confino [00:49:14]:
Guest. Yes, please. Or we’ll just stop recording and keep talking. But when we say I’ll be happy when, we’re tricking ourselves into believing that when guest. Is this fixed and reachable target where in truth, you know, hedonic adaptation, the hedonic treadmill effect, whenever we get something that we think will increase our happiness, guest. Even if it does temporarily, we revert back to our baseline because we acclimate, and then we move the goalpost further. And so we need to recognize that there is not a guest. Single external achievement that will ever provide us those internal feelings that we crave, but we can create those feelings for ourselves guest.
Jordana Confino [00:49:51]:
Right now by honoring our values and those things that give us give us those deeper sense of meaning, purpose, connection. Guest. And if we can’t do that for ourselves now, we’re never gonna be able to do that for ourselves because it’s never gonna be the guest journal thing. And the steps that are required to cultivate those things are doable really regardless of the context. And so I love guest. I love that you said that, and I I couldn’t agree more.
Aoife O’Brien [00:50:19]:
Brilliant. Love it. And if people want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about what you do, what is the best place that I can do that.
Jordana Confino [00:50:27]:
Fabulous. Yeah. My website is jordanacinfino.com, and there, you can find all my information. My blog, guest. Chronicles of recovering type a plus perfectionist lives there. And, also, I’m on LinkedIn, Jordana Confino, and so that’s also a great way to reach me.
Aoife O’Brien [00:50:44]:
Guest. Brilliant. Thank you so much. I absolutely loved this conversation. And I know for anyone who relates to either one of us with that kind of guest. Inner drive, the inner perfectionist is really gonna relate to what we talked about today and has some really solid steps that they can take then to start addressing that, to take an, you know, an honest look at themselves and start putting some things in place to address to address that for themselves and to be happier now rather than in guest feature. Yeah. Absolutely.
Aoife O’Brien [00:51:13]:
And, this was such a pleasure. So thank you
Jordana Confino [00:51:15]:
so much for having me on, Aoife. I’m excited to continue this conversation. Guest.