This is a topic close to home for me. Why? Because waiting for perfect has lead to some of my proudest moments and my deepest frustrations.
At first, being a perfectionist seems ideal, wonderful in fact.
It implies you have high expectations of quality and don’t stop until they’re met. Yep. Sounds fabulous! BUT there’s another side that every perfectionist secretly carries around with them like a lead weight… fear of failure. Failure in this case meaning ‘imperfection’, not meeting those high standards we set for ourselves.
Is that you? Sorry if I’ve just poked your bruise…
Waiting for ‘perfect’ can seriously hinder our potential being realised.
You know it’s true. Often it’s not fear about the big picture outcome that’s stalling us but waiting to have all our ducks in a row before we start. We even want a perfect start! No wonder we can stall so much...
Take my attitude towards going for a run for example...
If it’s cloudy – I don’t run.
If it’s cold – I don’t run.
If it’s windy – I don’t run.
If it’s frosty – I definitely don’t run.
If it’s raining – there is no chance I’ll run.
If it’s sunny I’ll think about it… but if it’s remotely warm – I won’t run. It’s obviously going to be too hot.
If I can’t find my favourite sports bra – I won’t run.
If I’m not fit – I won’t run. ( Yes… I can also see the irony here…)
There are literally a zillion things holding me back from running. Before I go for a run it seems like I need at least twenty factors to be perfect aligned, and then… I might consider going for a run. Is all of this stalling because I don’t like running? No! So why on earth don’t I run? It's because I’m waiting for the conditions to be perfect. Can anyone else see a problem with this situation?
to break through the paralysis of perfection:
1. Is your perfectionism helping or hindering you?
Seriously. Name it up for what it is. Being honest with yourself will help you increase your awareness and empower you to move forward…. I promise!
2. No more 'all or nothing'
Remove that all or nothing mindset of yours by getting connected to your outcomes. When your outcomes (i.e. fitness and healthy bones and muscles) are more important than your starting conditions (i.e. weather for running) then you’re far more likely to be empowered to take action.
3. Get flexible with your methods
Being flexible with your methods for achieving your outcomes can be incredibly freeing. Here's an example; if running really isn’t motivating you to get fit then why not choose another way of increasing your fitness? Try badminton, basketball, walking a dog (I don’t care who’s it is)... anything! Loosen up on your approach and allow yourself to find something that will enable you to enjoy the process of achieving your outcome (FYI instead of running I play basketball... chasing a ball makes me run without realising I'm even doing it and delivers the fitness results I want!).
4. Celebrate all the mini-wins
Yep. Mini-wins, not just the big ones. Don’t keep moving the finish line as you strive for being more perfect than perfection itself but make your steps clear and celebrate every single one. I don’t care how teeny-tiny or how imperfect the step is, you need to celebrate it because you’re celebrating the building of momentum towards your greater goal. The next question to ask yourself is, how do you like to celebrate? Is it celebrating with someone? Treating yourself to something special? Whatever it is make sure you celebrate your wins! It will motivate you along your journey!
5. Take the pressure off!
I once held on to submitting the first assessment of an online course I was studying for months because I was stalling, waiting for it to be perfect. Eventually I bit the bullet and submitted it. You know what? It came back as ‘satisfactory’. SATISFACTORY!? Initially my over achieving self was deflated BUT when I realised it was either that or non-satisfactory I was suddenly far happier. I didn’t wait for perfect with future assessments (how do I know if it’s perfect anyway when the scale is non-satisfactory to satisfactory?). I relaxed my level of expectation to one that was realistic for me at that stage of my life, and simply did my best (without getting lost in the extremities of the detail) and submitted each assessment with far more peace. I’m proud to say that my assessments were all ‘satisfactory’. Phew! And yes… I celebrated every single one.
I wonder... did this blog post hit home for you? Motivate you? Maybe you know a friend who needs to read it? Then go ahead and send them the link.
If working through the paralysis of perfection is something you know that deep down you have the determination to do then Success Coaching is a valuable tool you have at your fingertips. Coaching is a one-on-one service that will change your life, our client testimonials say it all. The change you want is in your hands.
Steph Edmunds is SESC's Certified Professional Success Coach, Speaker and Facilitator.
You can contact Steph here.