Break Free of Perfectionism
Perfectionism prevents you from moving forward in your life. It’s an enemy of innovation and creativity, because they start off being disorganized. Progress is messy. And when you try to be perfect, you block your ability to complete anything. Learn how to overcome this undermining tendency so that you can achieve your vision.
Are you a perfectionist? Trying to get everything perfect before you move on? Is it successful? I’ll bet probably not. That’s because perfectionism is an unreachable goal. It doesn’t serve you or allow you to thrive. It holds you prisoner to its demands. And it lies when it lures you with the idea that it helps you to excel. It doesn’t. It can actually derail your ability to excel Perfectionism and excelling are two different things. Perfection is a dead end. Excellence can always be improved.
I’m Linda-Ann Stewart, a vision strategist. For almost 30 years, I’ve been a hypnotherapist. Clients came to see me to create change in their lives. Early on, I discovered that they had to also have a vision of where they wanted to end up with that change to be truly successful. Now, as a vision strategist, I help women entrepreneurs get a clear vision, get focused on its strategies and get back in control so they’re able to accelerate to the next level of their business.
Voltaire said,”Perfection is the enemy of the good.” It’s also the enemy of innovation and creativity. Because those are messy and disorganized. They’re designed to create order out of chaos, but first chaos has to reign. I understand if you’re just shuddering as I mention that. I’ll bet it goes counter to everything you’ve believed.
As an example, an artist friend of mine was blocked. She specialized in oils, and wanted her paintings to be perfect. So she’d work and rework parts of her paintings and had gotten to a point where she wouldn’t complete one. To break through this block, and loosen up, she decided to take a watercolor class from a friend.
She was shocked to her bones when the teacher started the class by saying, “Give yourself permission to paint the worst picture you ever have.” My friend was almost immobilized by this instruction. “I can’t do that,” she said. “I have to try my best.” After a lot of encouragement, she was finally able to let go and experiment and play. And it made her realize that her attachment to perfection was what was blocking her. And she began completing paintings again.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well?” Many people read that to mean “perfectly.” I prefer the quote by G. K. Chesterton, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” If you’re a perfectionist, I’ll bet you just winced. It’s completely opposite of everything you were taught or have done. But I promise, the sky won’t fall if you do something badly. The earth will continue to spin. No one will think less of you. You’re the one who puts that pressure on yourself. No one else cares that much. You’re the one blocking your progress and your vision, like my artist friend was.
When you first start working on something or starting a new enterprise, don’t expect yourself to be perfect. You’re going to do poorly at first. A child doesn’t walk the first time they try, do they? You’re not going to be an expert when you first start something new. Yes, I know that rocks you down to your feet. But you have to practice before you can reasonably expect to master your project. You’ll just have to keep working at it. The idea is progress, not perfection.
But sometimes perfectionists procrastinate or rework what they’ve already done just to avoid completing a project. It keeps them from facing judgement, rejection or criticism. But most of that negativity comes from themselves. Like I said, most of the people who know you aren’t going to care.
Perfection is the enemy of good, progress and achieving your vision. Your path to your vision or completion isn’t going to go in a straight line. It’s going to be messy. Accept it. I know that’s hard. There are going to be setbacks and leaps forward. You’re going to learn along the way and make different decisions. That’s the way progress works. It’s messy.
You can still have high standards. Just have reasonable ones. Don’t sacrifice progress or completion to impossible ideals. If you start procrastinating, then you know that standard is too demanding. Scale back and just start. Take a step. Then another. Keep taking steps until it’s done. Just get it done. Even if it’s badly. You’ll eventually get used to it. And you’ll be more likely to excel, be happier and more successful.
If you’d like tips on how to make your day flow more smoothly, download my free guide, Take Control of Your Day.
Thank you for watching. I know this was hard for you, but I hope you’ve gotten some encouragement to loosen some of your perfectionistic tendencies. Take care.