Let’s have a chat about perfectionism okay? I know you’re awesome and great at what you do, but sometimes do you feel like you have to do it all? If no one else can do it to please you or you never ask for help (even when you know you should) then this podcast is for you. There’s a little perfectionist in all of us now and then, but it doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you love.
Today’s podcast is about the myth of perfectionism. We’ve all been there. Stuck. Unable to take effective action. Because. Perfectionism.
Obviously striving to do your best on any project is commendable and worthwhile. No one is suggesting that you phone it in, or settle for something that isn’t your best. Let’s all agree that isn’t what I’m talking about when it comes to the “I’m a perfectionist thing.”
Most of us have been there. We’ve become obsessed with something being perfect. What makes perfectionism so insidious is that we are focused on the negative. 95% is the way it should be but we can’t find satisfaction because we can only see the 5%. At it’s worst, it can cause lasting problems like depression and contribute to low self-worth.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur perfectionism can take an even larger toll. When you are doing most things yourself, or you are responsible for the success of the business it’s understandable that you want everything to be perfect.
I get it. I’ve been there too.
But it can be a path to burning out, frustration and sometimes even failure because you can’t focus and spend your energy and resources where they can make the best impact.
I’ve divided perfectionism into 2 categories so we can talk about how it happens and even better – how to fix it or stop it from being an issue in your life.
First is the person who wears their perfectionist tendencies as a badge of honor. You know the type. Their identity is connected to being the person who does everything right. Is this you? If so, you probably are great at lots of things and no doubt you excel in life. But it has to be exhausting at times too. Even worse, if you need help, you aren’t likely to ask.
Most of us who don’t feel as “perfect” as you aren’t going to offer to help either – not because we don’t want to or aren’t willing but because we’re afraid we wouldn’t do things well enough to please you.
Take the badge off. It’s okay to admit you can’t do it all. In fact, I bet friends and family members and co-workers will be thrilled to help if you have an honest conversation with them about how you’re in perfectionsim recovery. Let them know specifically how they can help or the parts that you struggle with – and assure them you’ll continue to rock the things you do better than anyone!
Recognize it’s okay to enjoy the journey. The moments in life as well as the outcome. You’ll be happier, the people who love you will be relieved and life will become much more fun.
Others use their perfectionism as a shield. It keeps them from trying. And finishing. They point to their PF as a way to avoid letting their work or art into the world. It’s a hurdle to be crossed that never seems to get out of the way.
The good news is that it’s easy to fix.
Do the work. Ship the thing. Share the art.
I recently heard an interview with John Maxwell a speaker and author. He’s written over 50 books and sold over 19 million. In the discussion he admitted that his first book was terrible. He was laughing about how bad it was. But he also talked about how it made an impact. He helped his business and he’s had people tell him they loved that first book. The bottom line is that he published it. He got it into the world. He didn’t intend for it to be a bad book – but in hindsight he acknowledged that he’s gotten much better at writing and his books are now much better.
But he couldn’t have written book 2 or book 52 if he hadn’t published book number one.
What are you not finishing? Are you allowing the idea of the perfect book or the perfect website or the perfect business plan to keep you from moving forward?
I believe that we all have a purpose. You are here to do your thing. To put your work, your art, your talents to use and into the world. Not doing so robs the rest of us from the experience of your contribution.
Even worse, it robs you of fulfilling your potential. Don’t let perfectionism keep you from finishing. Or starting.
I love starting projects. The planning, the strategy and I love implementing too but sometimes there is a point where I run out of steam. I lose a little momentum. I’ve given up on a few projects because I just felt like they weren’t good enough. Now, I have a better plan. When I feel myself resisting, explaining away in my head why it’s not good or maybe I should quit – I reach out to a friend I trust to be honest with me and share a bit of what I’m working on.
It’s always been helpful. I get constructive feedback and often it’s very positive. They can also provide that outside perspective and give me insights that I didn’t see. The result is usually a renewed interest in finishing the project.
And that feels better than perfect ever does.
Don’t let your perfectionist tendencies stop you. Be honest with yourself and be kind and fair to yourself. We’re often so hard on our own work, it’s no wonder we don’t think it lives up to the perfect standard.
You are good enough. And your best is good enough. Don’t let being perfect stop you from being YOU.