Perfection is a myth – and you can experience greater achievement and joy, personally and professionally, by letting it go
Have you noticed that the society we live in encourages us to put ourselves under pressure to do everything perfectly?
From an early age, we must work well at school and have good grades. Later, the choice of our career will decide our standard of living. More than likely we will follow the predictable paths in order to build a family, have a good living situation, create a good life — all the while, doing our best to do it all, perfectly.
If you’re tired of aiming for perfection, or as close to it as you can get, try these ideas to help break you free and get you out of the spiral of perfection for good:
Better done than perfect.
This is my own personal motto — better that something is done at all than done perfectly. Are you waiting for everything to be perfect before you start anything? Do you have so much pressure outweighing the end result you want to achieve, that you’re too petrified to even start? What if you start by relaxing to release some of the pressure?
Take 2-3 deep breaths and look at the situation honestly. Where are you getting caught up? What would it take to make you feel able to freely move forward?
By taking an honest look at these questions you will be more apt to put the things directly in front of you that need your focus here and now, while reducing the overwhelming pressure of everything at once. By taking action, even if it is small steps at a time, things will seem much simpler.
We often resist action because we are afraid of the results. If you let go of the idea that everything must be perfect, you will save yourself a whole lot of time and energy.
Who do you want to emulate?
Ask yourself this, “Who do I want to emulate?” Who comes to mind when you think of doing things perfectly? Is it your mom? Your teacher, a friend or maybe even your boss?
If you have an example in mind, look at what you like about this person and how and why you consider yourself unable to do the same thing.
Then ask yourself, “What could I do differently to be more like this person? What patterns, habits or mindsets do I need to shift? What do I need to learn or experience or practice?”
If you think you have some training to add to your curriculum to be more comfortable, you may want to talk to your manager and attending a course or a training seminar soon.
Aim for balance when you think of the people you admire and aspire to be more like. At the same time, keep in mind that you don’t want to imitate someone to the point that you get away from who you really are.
I have realized that when I am not fully myself in my activities and projects, the people around me feel it, and in turn, I wind up attracting the wrong types of customers with an offer that does not fit me. On the contrary, when I’m enthusiastic and do what I like, doors seem to open more easily.
Perfection is an illusion; ‘best effort’ combined with authenticity is the formula for moving forever forward.
Look at how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved, what projects you’ve managed and done. Are you imitating anyone you admire in those areas? The idea here is to show yourself that you have all the resources within you. Your strengths are enough to activate your potential.
You can also ask yourself, “What are my unique strengths?” What are your special qualities and skills that could help you to regain self-confidence in your abilities? Try not to let fear or judgment trip you up.
Are you afraid of judgment? Are you waiting for everything to be perfect to avoid being judged?
As you have probably noticed you can’t please everyone. As soon as you do something, you’ll have people who will love what you do and others who will criticize you. The same rang true when my daughters were little. I always wanted them to be the most beautiful, the best dressed and the ones all their friends envied for having such a perfect mother. My pride (and my ego) was getting in the way. Today, I work each day to detach myself as much as possible from the judgments and critiques of others.
I have learned to give myself allowance in every situation. This permits me to create more space in me to feel less attacked or hurt by what surrounds me.
Does this sound familiar at all?
Look at what you bring.
Could you consider for a day that you bring forth your own gifts? What positive projects or life achievements have gone forward because of you? How do you react when thinking about your accomplishments? Do you feel proud, or do you look at what could have been better, or done differently, or more perfectly?
I would like to encourage you to enjoy the satisfaction from the big and small things you’ve accomplished or aimed to achieve. Try to look past the flaws and instead savor those moments.
One thing I’d encourage you to do is take up a hobby or tackle a small project that brings you (or others) simple satisfaction. When we do something manual, like knitting for example, or painting a room in your house, you give yourself the chance to put these things into practice — to savor the results, instead of the faults.
Does perfectionism slow you down in your projects? Or is it an excuse to go slower? If you tend to procrastinate, you may be able to explore what causes you to deliver the required project at the last minute. In my own past experience, I noticed that I would tend to not acquire all of the needed information for a project. If I lacked some of the information, then I didn’t have to start it. I realized I did this because I wanted everything to be perfect, and I wasn’t ready to receive unpleasant comments or criticism about my work.
Perhaps you can consider adding in time to your project to “tweak” it a bit, instead of viewing the effort of editing or changing things as evidence of weaknesses or errors. While tweaking might take longer, it also gives you time to reflect, to be more succinct and to deliver an end result that you’ve had time to fully consider. Ironically, it can move your project a little closer to ‘perfect’.
Perfectionism has no place in your life or your projects. It’s a thief of time, joy and true contribution to your life. Try using my motto instead:
Better done than perfect!
You may also enjoy reading I Can’t… or Maybe I Can: Releasing Our Limiting Beliefs of Our Potential by Judy Mariano