Jordana Confino is a certified professional coach, Positive Lawyering professor, and founder and CEO of JC Coaching & Consulting, a company devoted to helping lawyers and other high-achieving professionals achieve greater satisfaction and sustainable success in their lives and work.

She has spent the bulk of her career as a lawyer and in legal education at elite institutions, and she knows that many high-achieving, successful people hold limiting beliefs that prevent them from truly flourishing. Until recently, she was one of them.

But, Jordana transformed her life leveraging the science of positive psychology and human motivation theory, and she’s passionate about helping others do the same.

She’s an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, where she previously served as the Assistant Dean of Professionalism. In addition to overseeing the law school’s wellness curriculum, she teaches a one-of-a-kind course called Positive Lawyering, which empowers law students to use science-backed strategies of positive psychology to maximize their well-being and peak performance in their careers.

She was voted Adjunct Law Professor of the Year in 2021.

In her blog, Chronicles of a Recovering Type A+ Perfectionist, Jordana shares stories and offers science-backed tips and strategies for reining in fear and cultivating joy, love, and values-based living in our crazy cut-throat world.

Her journey out of perfectionism and high-achieving ways set her up for a better experience with IVF as fertility is not something you can simply "achieve." Walk through her story of healing, IVF, and surrender.


Q: Talk to us about your breaking point and how you moved through it.

A: The whole reason that my blog is Chronicles of a Recovering Type A+ Perfectionist is because this is an ongoing journey. I am absolutely still constantly discovering additional progress that needs to be made, making that progress, regressing on that progress, and making it again a little bit more.

There were two major breaking points actually, and I think that’s really important to highlight because I thought that I had figured it out after the first one.

Going back, if you met me in high school, college, law school—raging overachiever. I wore my perfectionism as a badge of honor. I was the most intense person. Valedictorian in high school. College, graduated straight honors. Yale Law School, two prestigious clerkships, big law job offer.

I truly believed that I had to forego every aspect of my well-being in order to be successful—and so I did. So, I was also—especially in law school—the loneliest person in the world. I was so lonely, it physically hurt.

By the way, I hated the work I was doing. I had decided for a bunch of half-baked reasons that I should be a federal criminal prosecutor, which is an extremely prestigious position. I ignored the fact that I hated solitary research and writing and being in an adversarial framework. I actually love being in a collaborative, nurturing environment. Not really criminal prosecution, right?

And yet, I had just decided that these were the shoulds, and I was really good at doing everything that I needed to do to get the things I thought that I should want. So, truly, I was just killing myself to just get these things.

First, my brain was sending me all these signals. So, the so-lonely-it-physically-hurt, just painfully unhappy, anxiety that was first distracting and then, ultimately, started to impact my ability to function.

Then, the physical symptoms started happening. All sorts of chronic, unexplainable GI issues, chronic pain. I couldn't walk at one point for multiple months at a time. Migraines. All of these things. So, basically, my brain and my body were saying enough is enough, we can’t do this. I ultimately just hit this breaking point.

So, I now teach a course on Positive Lawyering, which is basically positive psychology for lawyers and other high-achieving professionals. I discovered my first course of positive psychology when I was a psych major. They weren’t teaching positive psychology then.

I Googled “How To Be Happy,” when I was just burnt out, broken down, I cannot do this anymore. I discovered this class on positive psychology, ended up enrolling in it, and it just blew up my brain.

Positive psychology is just the science of human flourishing, and what it shows is that there’s actually a direct connection between our well-being and our creativity, our productivity, our physical success, and our ability to perform optimally in the workplace. So, well-being actually fuels peak performance—that’s the complete opposite of everything that I had been assuming—and there are ways we can cultivate these things, even if we’re not feeling them right now.

My entire experience in law school and practice would have been so much better if I knew this. Also, everyone I know out in the legal profession and in all of the other high-achieving fashions—I feel like they are just as clueless as I was. So, at that point, I thought this is what I was going to do. I was going to pivot and start teaching people these things.

One of the core things that I realized when I was so miserable and finally started working with a therapist was that I was completely out of alignment with my values. She had me do this very basic values exercise to identify the values most important to me—love, connection, authenticity—and to what extent is what I was doing with my time and my energy furthering those values. Not at all.

So, I was like, okay, I’m going to shift. I’m going to do more to align with my values. I shifted to legal education and literally teaching and coaching students on well-being—and I created time for my personal relationships.

So, I was like, okay, this is all going to be better now. Life is going to be good. I got my certification in positive psychology. I know the science of human happiness. Everything is great.

Fast forward six months into my first job at Columbia Law School and I burned out hard again. This was the point where I could not walk for multiple months. Literally, incapacitated. Mayo Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. Every expensive doctor in New York. No one could figure it out.

I just kept pushing myself harder and harder and, in the fertility journey, getting more and more mad at myself wondering why it wasn’t working and why I couldn’t just push through this the way I had always pushed through.

I remember I was meeting with my therapist who had been trying to introduce me to the idea of self-compassion for a very long time. I had said absolutely not—that it would turn me into a weak, lazy marshmallow and make me lose my edge. I had no interest in it. But, she referenced a race horse that had just broken down from exhaustion and asked if I would just keep whipping it to try to get it up and run faster. I said no, and she asked me why I was doing it to myself. And, I said oh…

So, it was at that point that I opened myself up to self-compassion, but also that was when I keyed into the perfectionism thing, which is now a huge focus of all the work I am doing. What I’ve realized is that we can do all this work on ourselves to try to propel ourselves forward and build ourselves up, but if we’re still tearing ourselves down from the inside-out, we’re never going to be able to make those gains.

You can take the girl out of the toxic big law work environment, but if you don’t take the toxic drill sergeant boss out of her head, she is still going to drive herself into the ground. You’re not doing good enough. You must do more. You’re not working hard enough. That fear of not being good enough that pegs your value and self-worth to those feelings of accomplishment or achievement, that is what’s so unhealthy.

One of the reasons I actually think being a mother is going to be so wonderful for me is because—and I recognize there will be a lot of other challenges—with an infant, for once, your value is in a human being, not a human doing. All that little kid wants is for you to be present and with them. They don’t care about what you’re doing at work and all the checkboxes. Of course, I know that we create all these other forms of achievement. We can overachieve being a mom, we can overachieve getting pregnant—and find all these other ways to turn it into a doing rather than a being.

I still struggle, and it’s an ongoing process—and it’s literally my job now to help people claim those feelings of inherent self-worth and reign in that perfectionism, but I still feel the pull myself. But at least with respect to distancing myself from the work, I think that being a mom will help me appreciate my value of just who I am for being me more than just what I produce in any given moment.

Q: Talk about “Good Girl Syndrome.”

A: I can peg the month as to when my “Good Girl Syndrome” started. I didn’t even realize this until two years ago when I did a podcast and they were asking me a lot about my childhood. It was honestly the first time that I had thought about my childhood in a little while.

I thought, wait, I was this wacky, creative spirit when I was a little kid. I was the weirdest little kid in the best possible way—so imaginative. I wanted to be a movie star actress. I wasn’t all that talented in the performance capacity, but I would just spend hours and hours playing and creating in my own mind.

Then, fast forward to high school and I am the most increasingly rigid and intense person. I teach a unit on creativity in my Positive Lawyering class, and I feel like such an imposter because I thought, I don’t even have a creative bone in my body.

This was before I thought that I would ever launch my company, start a blog—anything like that. It was because the creativity got buried so deep underneath the good girl and perfectionism. Perfectionism kills creativity because you’re just trying to be so small to fit into the mold of somebody else’s ideal that there’s no space for creativity or putting your ideas out there.

My freshman year of high school, my dad got very sick with severe depression. It was extremely scary and totally outside of my control and really uprooting for my family. It was within that period that, all of a sudden, I got really intense at school. I know this because, when I first entered high school, I got a B- on a Geometry exam and my parents took me to a learning specialist because they thought that I wasn’t focusing enough or that I was having trouble focusing.

So, I know this is the turning point because that never happened again. It was almost like a flipped switch. I think what happened was first, I got that kick in the pants from my parents, but I started focusing on my grades and they were so proud of me. Then, I realized everything is spinning out and I can’t control any of this, but my grades seem to be the only thing that I can control as long as I work hard enough. So, I did that and I was the good girl.

So I was super intense in high school, but guess what—it takes a lot more intensity to be valedictorian at Yale College than it does to be at New Jersey Public High School. My freshman year of college, I was actually a bit more lax. I had this new boyfriend and college was really fun, and then I had what felt like the world’s most traumatizing breakup when you’re twenty and found out about this awful thing, this huge betrayal. My world was just crumbling down, and I tightened again.

So, as intense as I was with my grades before, I doubled down. Again, it was this safety thing that I can perfect. As long as I can work hard enough, this is that. And what happens is that the more that you devote all of your energy to perfecting that thing, the more you squeeze out everything else in your life.

So, by the time I got to law school, I felt—if I don’t have perfect grades, then who am I? I’ve got nothing else. It’s kind of this chicken and egg thing because our identity just comes to completely revolve around our ability to excel in this one space but, in order to protect and maintain that, we then cut off every other aspect of our identity, including the ones that would actually fuel us in the ways that this achieving isn’t.

I remember there was one point in college when I was in this crazy hard neuroscience class and the professor announced that the average grade on the exam was like a sixty-something. I get it back and I got a hundred on it. At this point, I was still devastated from the break up, I was isolated from my friends, and I just burst into tears because I realized it didn’t make me feel good at all.

It was just so hollow and empty because, again, those achievements never give us those feelings of internal worthiness and validation that we crave. I always say that perfectionists aren’t actually playing to win, they’re playing not to lose. It’s just this relief that we didn’t fail and we lived to fight another day. But then, the anxiety and insecurity just goes up because now you have to rise to that level again, and what if you can’t and everyone will reject me and think I’m not good enough.

You have to see that writing on the wall that this will go on forever and you might run yourself into the ground permanently in the process, and that you need to find some other way to create those feelings that you want so badly without just expecting some extrinsic achievement or checking some box to do it. That was kind of a wake up call for me.

Q: How has it been for you moving through the health side?

A: Perfectionism is directly correlated with both eating disorders and workaholism. It’s such a helpful parallel. I think that the eating disorder example helps people understand it more in the workaholism and perfectionism context because perfectionism isn’t about the goals—it’s about the expectations for how we pursue them and the motivation with which we pursue them.

So it’s this shame- and fear-based motivation and this compulsion that’s fueled with a lot of self-criticism rather than I’m running toward this thing because it will make me feel really good. So, often, when workaholics or overachievers want to start drawing boundaries or reigning in the overwork or stop saying yes to everything, their brains start screaming at them that they’re spiraling out of control.

In the same way, someone who over-exercises or restricts their eating, when they make a conscious decision to not run for two hours today or have a snack when they notice hunger pangs, the brain shouts that they’re spiraling out of control.

Actually, you are reclaiming your control for the first time in so long, and that act of not yielding to the anxious impulse of restriction, exercise, work, is an act of strength. It’s all because our society has programmed us to believe that more is always better when it comes to exercise and work and less is better when it comes to eating.

Another piece of perfectionism is black and white thinking. So, either I’m healthy or I’m unhealthy and there is no gray or fluidity which of course is not true.

Over the past decade, I have had every health ailment that could possibly come up, but I’ve also realized that I’m one of the most resilient humans on the planet. I’m the little engine that could.

Honestly, when it comes to the health stuff, and especially fertility, you see the weirdest things happen. You see so many people that can’t get pregnant forever. They do IVF. It fails and fails and fails. They give up their hope, and then they get pregnant naturally.

Of course, there is what we should be doing for optimal health. So, it’s not to say to ignore those things. But things work in such bizarre ways. So many of my chronic health things have mysteriously gone away after being debilitatingly present.

The most helpful thing for me has been mind-body medicine in terms of making progress in those places. The research on links between anxiety and perfectionism and chronic pain and chronic health issues blows my mind. I’m not saying it’s in your head, but the mind-body connection is wild.

I kind of came into the fertility thing knowing there is a good chance I might have to do IVF because my body has not been something that I’ve been able to control in the ways that I want to in a very long time—at least naturally.

Q: With everything you’ve been through and the challenges you’ve shared with your health, what was that initial entry point with IVF energetically? Excitement? Nervousness? What was that decision like?

A: This is again like post-traumatic growth in that I feel the anguish I’ve gone through with all of my other physical health stuff has forced me to learn how to surrender to things that involve my body.

I was digging my heels in for the longest time about even trying to start trying to get pregnant. I was in this space where I felt like I had just found myself and was still re-parenting myself and there was so much I wanted to do that I didn’t feel ready to have a kid yet. I was doing things with my career. I wasn’t ready yet. Do I want to have a family? Absolutely, but I wasn’t ready yet.

The biological clock is the least fair thing in the world. My husband and I are doing that math. We don’t know how long it’s going to take. When do we need to start? So, there was this whole thing of me just going off of birth control. I kept pushing it a few months and a few more months, and I finally went off. Now we are here a year later and it’s almost like LOL, I guess we didn’t have to have such a huge ramp up to going off birth control because nothing has happened.

For this process, this whole time, admittedly, even now, I’m still like, oh my gosh, right now I am so desperately focused on trying to conceive the baby and have the baby—but then what am I going to do when I actually have the baby? I’m still like holy smokes, I’m not ready. I came to the realization that I’ll never feel ready and I’ll figure it out when I get there.

In terms of yielding to IVF, I actually think that I’m really fortunate that I know so many people who have really struggled with their fertility. I know people who have had multiple kids on their first try with IVF and multiple people who have done three, four, five-plus rounds of IVF and then went another route like surrogate or adoption.

And those people, they have the most deliciously wonderful children who they would not trade for anything in the world. This includes friends and family members who have had miscarriages, which is the most heart- and gut-wrenching awful thing, and they have children that are irreplaceable now.

I have the utmost certainty that we’re going to have our babies and they’re going to be the most deliciously delightful little humans, and I pray so hard that it happens sooner rather than later—both because I don’t want to have to wait that long, but also because I don’t want to have to go through this multiple times because it’s certainly not fun.

But I have no doubt that, one way or another, it’s going to work out. Looking at those babies and now children of the friends who had all of the disappointments along the way who are like, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have them. So, it’s like, okay, this is going to happen one way or another—and that’s kind of been helpful for me.

I’ve also taken the pressure off of it. So, I’ve kind of come in with the protection mechanism of trying to set the expectations low and hoping it will work. They give you information on the odds. The worst part is the egg retrieval. So, for anyone who is like I’ve got eggs or I’ve got embryos and they’re thinking about the next steps, that’s the hardest part.

So, if you can get through that part, then it’s like if you have to try it a couple of times, it feels less. It’s the whole thing. There are so many ups and downs. Because you get the eggs and that’s a number and only certain of them turn into embryos and only certain embryos test well and only certain of those survive the period.

So, it’s like, at what point do we have the good news here? And, I’m kind of just realizing that once it transfers, you have to see if it takes, but then you have to check again. Then you have to wait until you get to twelve weeks.

It’s a long process. So, one step at a time. When people ask what I’m going to do at this stage or this stage, I just say I’m going to think about it when I get to that stage.

The good things about IVF are you do have some more control, so you can pick the healthiest embryos. Now that I’ve seen the IVF process and how many embryos are not genetically healthy, or at least of mine, it’s amazing that anybody gets pregnant naturally. The odds are just so low.

So, the good news with IVF is that you have some certainty and more information about whether it’s happening or not. For someone who has been waiting a year and waiting every month and not knowing and not knowing, at least there are dates and deadlines and clarity with the IVF process, which I think for me is comforting and reassuring.

Also, you get to see the genders and know if you want to. But there are good things about it in terms of control and clarity.

I didn’t understand this until I went through it when people say IVF is really hard. It’s hard in every way. Mentally and emotionally, the hormones you are injecting in you. Physically, the process at different points can be extremely painful.

You also have to go to the doctor every two days for weeks at a time which, depending on what you do professionally or otherwise in your life and where your doctor is, it kind of just owns you. Then, having to do the shots at specific times is challenging. It takes a ton.

My doctor and her whole team are so kind and compassionate and empathetic. They understand how fraught this process is, and that has been tremendously helpful. So, I would say if you’re not loving the care and attention from the doctor, I would switch to one that makes you feel like they're supporting you through it.

Get as much information as you can so that you can plan. There are restrictions on your physical activity during certain times. For some, that might be nothing. But, depending on your lifestyle and your job, it could be a big thing. So even just knowing everything that’s involved with every stage takes a roadmap to unload the stress out of it.

There should be IVF doulas out there. That should be a thing.

It all impacts people differently, too. There are all sorts of different protocols. Someone very close to me right now is going through this and her protocol is completely different than mine. So, she’s asking me all these questions and I can only tell her about my experience, but to ask her doctor because it’s totally different.

It’s also complicated. Right now, I’m doing a shot every day. I’m taking two pills three times a day separate from two other pills two other times a day that have to be taken with food and a suppository. It’s a lot to keep track of.

And they all make you feel differently. For me, the egg retrieval shots hit me psychologically and physically harder than the transfer medication for me.

One thing that helps is being like, you feel terrible, but there’s a reason you feel terrible. So, don’t operate any heavy machinery. Don’t make any big decisions. Tell your husband that you get a free pass for anything and everything.

My husband has been incredibly supportive. Even in terms of helping prepare the shots. It takes a lot of time to set up the shots. It just takes so much time. Some people might be doing this completely on their own. They may not have a partner. But, having someone there for you that can just take anything off your plate and recognize that this itself is a full-time job and you also might be working a full-time job. It really helps because it is a lot.

I’m not saying this to scare anyone at all. I’m saying it to say go in and expect that it’s going to be a lot, so do not at all hesitate to take anything else off of your plate or enlist any and all support that you can in every shape of that word through the process.

Q: Do you feel like there’s another level of surrender that you would shift into once you are pregnant, or do you feel like the process has been so much that you’re already there?

A: In one way, I feel like I am surrendering—but not in the way that you said, because I feel like I’m so nervous for every step of this process and, again, I think it’s because some people really close to me have recently miscarried at eleven weeks, twelve weeks, and even further on.

So, I think I just appreciate how precarious this whole process is and I go back to I dream about these delicious little babies that are half me and half my husband and they’re going to be wonderful and I have no idea if the embryo that has been transferred into me is going to be one of them.

Part of me is like this could not work or this could all still work, and for me that actually makes me feel a little bit safer right now. But every step, I’m like when do we get to be excited?

What I would say is for me I have just been kind of focusing on one step at a time and I know we’re going to get there and that has been helpful. I try to meditate ten minutes every day and I have been doubling down on self-compassion.

Also, just giving myself more grace and caring for myself. For instance, I am someone who is very active and there were times I was allowed to be active, but I just didn’t feel up for it and so just listened to my brain and my body. The nice thing about trying to be pregnant is caring for me is also caring for a pregnancy and making it work.

So, I think this is something for the perfectionists and people-pleasers, if you can appeal to oh, I’m also serving my future child and this baby by cherishing and honoring myself, that will only help. I’ve been trying to be kinder and more compassionate with myself both because I know I deserve it and that can only help this process.

The most frustrating thing is when people are like well, don’t stress during this process because stress is really bad for pregnancy. Don’t stress about your stress, but do be kind to yourself and that will reduce some of the stress too.

That’s kind of where it is now, but I’m so open to chatting about where I’m at weeks from now. I don’t know how I’ll feel if it doesn’t end in the way I want and how it’ll shape my views on it. I think I’ll give myself a little bit of a break and then try again.

We’re all going to get those kids one way or another. This way increases the odds and control and certainty. There’s people that this doesn’t work, and they find another way. We are going to find a way, one way or another.


This blog post was written based on kozēkozē Podcast Episode 371: Perfectionism and IVF with Jordana Confino.

If you’d like to listen to the conversation first-hand, tune in here.


kozēkozē Updates

  • We got to sell Nip Gloss in person at Babies and Bumps in Indianapolis, and we are planning to attend the events in Nashville and Cincinnati as well.
  • kozēpee is pretty much ready for its official launch in September! You can still pre-order at a discount.
  • We’re targeting the end of August for Nip Gloss to be available on Amazon.
  • The Nipple Diaper is currently starting production.
  • We are innovating another new postpartum product.
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