Better done than perfect: how to escape perfectionism
Perfectionism… it can really get in your way. Being a perfectionist is challenging. It can leave you disappointed and dissatisfied. It can have a negative impact on your relationships too.
Does the following sound familiar to you? You want to get things right, first time, every time. Nothing can ever be as perfect as you would like. You not only hold yourself to very high standards, you also expect the same of others (otherwise, you might as well do it yourself, right?). Sometimes it can even be difficult to get started and you could find yourself procrastinating on the things you really want to achieve. And the negative emotions that follow can easily lead you into an even more unproductive state with self-criticism and doubt taking over your intention of doing a great job.
What if perfectionism is holding you back in your business and your life?
If that’s the case, now is the best time to get out of your own way and let go of the need to be perfect. Speaking as a recovering perfectionist, there will never be a more perfect moment then right now, I promise.
The truth is that perfectionism is not something you were born with. If you would be a born perfectionist, you still wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, read or tie your shoe laces, would you? You moved on from the mistakes you made and got up, tried again and kept going. Over time you’ve learned how to behave, think and feel like a perfectionist. Perfectionism is not who you are, it is a pattern you adopted over time. So, take a deep breath and give yourself a break.
How do you escape the need to be perfect?
The key to escape the need to be perfect is self-leadership, taking control back over your life and work, connecting with what really matters to you. Realising that perfectionism is not who you are and it doesn’t define you. Change is possible when you become aware of those old perfectionism patterns you no longer need and find the right balance between results and performance levels.
Finding the right balance between results and performance levels
I have three basic rules I live by to maintain this balance and I teach these to my clients.
- Start from where you are and give it what you’ve got, there’s no need to wait
- Done is better than perfect, it’s ok to make mistakes (because that’s how we learn)
- It’s always awkward before it becomes elegant, so practice, practice, practice!
Getting into action is the way to achieve results
Ultimately, it is about the results you want to achieve. Starting from where you are, with what you’ve got means taking action, and that is the way you get the results you desire. Set goals that are achievable and break them down in smaller steps. If those steps still feel overwhelming, break them down in more steps, even smaller steps until they become do-able.
When is good, good enough?
Let’s face it, life is busy! And there’s probably more going on than you could humanly possible fit in, let alone do it all perfect. So, if something is not 100% perfect, does that make it not good enough? Give yourself some space! Criticism and judgement don’t help to achieve anything. The world is not black and white, all-or-nothing. If 99% goes well and 1% doesn’t, are you still focusing on that 1%? Chances are, you are the only person seeing that 1%. Appreciating the 99% that goes well, will make you feel so much better than focusing on that 1%. And feeling better, leads to being more productive and therefore getting better results. Celebrate all your achievements, breakthroughs, aha’s, insights and learnings no matter how small. You can of course make improvements, learn from your mistakes. Tweak it until you get the results you want and practice, practice, practice. It’s only that way that things become more elegant.
Emotional patterns of perfectionism
Going with the flow can be very difficult for a perfectionist. When things don’t go the way you imagined, can you adopt the flexibility to go with the flow and let go? Sometimes things just don’t go that way and who knows … It might be even better. A lot of major breakthroughs have happened because of mistakes. The most successful people will tell you they have made many mistakes and failed time after time before they reached success. How do you think about your mistakes and failures? What’s the worst thing that could happen? What is the best thing that could happen?
Are you ready to let your perfectionistic patterns go? Start observing what happens when you notice your perfectionism playing up and holding you back. Remember to start from where you are, with what you’ve got to get it done, better than perfect, and practice, practice, practice. It’s not easy, otherwise you’d already be there. Get the support you need, connect with like-minded people who will encourage and support you. Develop your self-leadership to get the life and business you really want.