The great creative, Salvatore Dali, once said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” The more you apply this simple sentence to your everyday life, whether you are a business owner, solopreneur, aspiring entrepreneur, or still stuck in your 9-5, the more you will benefit from its ENDLESS wisdom. For some (myself included), perfection is just part of who they are. Some even classify themselves as, well, “a perfectionist.” Usually, this adjective is associated with positive connotations. Perfectionists tend to get the reputation that they have it all together. YET, do we really? Is perfectionism really a good thing? In this post, I want to talk about how to stop letting your need for perfection hinder your progress.
A lot of the time, when I go to sit down to do a task my mind begins to fill with a million other things that need to get done on top of this thing I am working on and the overwhelm ensues. And just like that, I could be in the middle of writing a blog post, and decide I need a new lamp for my home office so I begin to search Amazon (and yes this actually happened while writing this post, along with a million other scenarios that consumed my mind and made me stop writing to attend to them). Like- holy cow. How effing annoying. I actually say aloud to myself, “STAY ON TRACK YA LUNATIC.” Oh and don’t even get me started on how many times I feel the need to check my social media accounts. I have to lock my phone in another room.
My need for perfection also keeps me from being able to relax and work at a normal pace. Now, who really says what “normal” is, and that is a whole thing in itself, but let’s just say I cannot perform at a pace that is productive. As I work on a task, anxiety starts to build, sometimes slowly and other times very quickly- depending on my experience with the task I am trying to accomplish and/or maybe the complexity or even subject matter of the task at hand. I start to overthink every little thing and question even the simplest pieces of the project.
With the overthinking and anxiety comes the deleting and starting over. I do this so many times, that after a couple hours, I almost break down from the extreme amount of frustration and actual depression I am bringing on myself. Yes, I said Depression. When you feel like you and all your work needs to always be perfect, the amount of pressure this creates becomes unbearable. It actually makes me go into a depression and my mind fills with all thoughts of self-doubt. I begin to believe that the work I create will never live up to the vision I have in my mind. So, since I know I won’t get where I believe I should be, why even try? What’s the point? All this negative energy leaves me feeling like I have a huge weight on my chest and that the easiest thing to do would be to move on and not finish what I started. This is when I try to take a step back.
I know this sounds cliche but I take at least 10 deep breaths. Sometimes I even find it helpful to stretch, meditate, or do a quick yoga workout. (The current app I am using for this is called, Insight Timer and is super helpful).
I then open up a google doc and write out a couple things:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Write down the steps you must take in order to accomplish this.
- Check them off as you go
- *Once one step is completed, move on to the next- stop overthinking it.
I think it’s best to admit,
Hey, I am a perfectionist, I like to do my best at whatever I take on, but I also know in order to commit and succeed, I have to settle for good enough.
I need to change my mindset to progress OVER perfection. I bring myself back to the fact that whenever I feel like this and I push through the negative voices and GET IT DONE, I always feel better about my day than if I had let the overwhelm allow me to put off, or worse, give up on my task and sulk around like a big crybaby all day, achieving NOTHING. I have to remind myself regularly that pushing through, and doing the best I can, even though it may not be what I view as perfect, is way better than getting nothing accomplished. Because as we all know, if you don’t do what you set out to, those feelings of anxiety and overwhelm will grow and grow until they encompass you and you’re nothing more than a big depressed, non progressing moper. Nobody likes a moper! Yes, even your cat will look at you like…
But where does this need, this longing for perfection come from? What is the root of this paradoxical evil? Well, I do not have the scientific answer for this, but I can tell ya somethin; social media. It is important to understand that the reason we put all this pressure on ourselves to be perfect is because of society and the way social media has literally warped our minds into believing that everyone else’s lives ARE indeed perfect. And therefore, if they are perfect and their websites, their business, their careers, their lifestyles, their blog posts, their “whatever”, is perfect by the looks of it, then my “whatever” must be perfect too before I even think of releasing it to the world. EVEN when I know that social media is a hoax and that only the best of the best of people’s lives are posted on it, as well as all the filters/tweaks and tricks to make their circumstances perfect, It STILL gets the best of me. DAMMIT. We have an innate need for people to like us and for people to think we are quite literally, “the cats meow” even if our life is actually a total slobcabob.
Again, back to the fact that most people who are labeled as perfectionists, get the wrap that they must have it “all together”. Normally, this adjective does not have negative connotations associated with it (by society standards anyway). It is us, the perfectionists, who know the reality of our worlds. We are the ones who see behind the veil and cringe at every fault or unedited Instagram pic. Feeling as though we are not where we should be or we are not living up to our fullest potential is draining and can be seriously demeaning to our character.
While there may not be a surefire way to erase who we are as perfectionists, and maybe we don’t totally want to either, there are ways to tackle how it affects our progression.
- Admit you are not perfect– You may be a perfectionist, but you are not perfect and never will be. Say out loud, “I am not perfect, neither is anyone else, and I will strive for progress over perfection.”
- Be aware– notice when you start to slip into the world of crazy and before you start to spiral try to bring yourself back to the task at hand.
- Phones away!– This will keep you from checking your social accounts and becoming even more anxious. It will also keep us from thinking everyone else is way better than me and I will never be as perfect so why bother.
- Recollect– Sometimes it is vital to the process of progression to stop, breath, and Namastay. It is important though, to not do this as a way of procrastination. There is a fine line here people! Be careful that this is something quick, and your primary focus is still at large.
- Live in the now– Remember that you are working toward goals. It is a journey, not a race. Be sure to appreciate all the steps you take & the progress both big & small you make along the way. In order to feel satisfied with where we are going, we have to appreciate and accept where we are.
If you are still sitting there like, “yeah okay lady, I still know I will always be hard on myself, but thanks,”-that’s fine. Just try to focus on the fact that it is how far you’ve come, not how far you have left to go. So, for all my perfectionist pals out there, you are not alone. But for the sake of us all, cut your hard-ass self, some slack here and there. Trust me, it will be better for your health (both mentally & physically), your relationships with others, and most importantly, the relationship you have with yourself.
As for me, in this moment, I know that I need to post this blog post before I let it sit in my drive for weeks thinking it is not good enough and make a million & one changes and then delete the whole damn thing.