Ditch Perfectionism – It Doesn’t Have to be Spectacular but Just Make a Start

on January 31, 2020 • Grace

These days, it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of perfectionism. We’re always seeing seemingly “perfect” people, careers, relationships and overall lives being broadcasted on our social media feeds. 

However, these images of perfection are myths. Some amount of failure goes into every success, and striving for perfect results usually only gives you negative outcomes.  

How Does Perfectionism Hold You Back?

More often than not, perfectionists are their own worst enemies. That’s because they hold themselves to high, often unattainable standards, then experience extremely high levels of stress trying to achieve those standards. 

Being unable to meet their personal standards often leads perfectionists to abandon projects altogether, or sacrifice other important aspects of their lives in order to try to obtain those perfect outcomes. 

Because of this, perfectionists are more likely to experience burnout — and less likely to achieve their goals. They see things only in black or white: perfect or never good enough. Succeed or fail. In fact, most of the successful people in any given field are not perfectionists

While it’s important to try your best at everything you do, perfectionists may believe that even their best is never good enough. Even when they do achieve success, they may still not be satisfied with their performance or outcome.  

If this sounds like you, it may be time to ditch perfectionism and actually start making progress toward achieving your goals. Here are some tips to do just that: 

Identify the Actual Standards Needed, Then Adjust Your Standards

Before setting out on a new challenge, whether that be a project at work or a new fitness regimen, take a moment to identify the standards actually needed to achieve your goal. 

While your personal standards may require a level of perfection, the challenge itself may not. Try talking to someone who has dealt with this challenge before, or who has a level of expertise, in order to determine the correct standards to hold yourself to.

For example, if you are taking on a project for work, ask your boss what stakes are at hand for the project. Is it something that is going to be reviewed and then edited and changed again, or is it something that must be client-ready? 

Or, if you are taking on a new workout routine, talk to a personal trainer about how often you realistically need to work out to achieve your goals. You may think you need to hit the gym every day, when really you can achieve your desired outcome by going consistently three times a week. 

Once you know what standards are needed from you, adjust your personal standards. While you may be tempted to outperform, start by trying to simply meet the standards that are being asked of you. Then, if you have time, you can go above and beyond — just don’t make “perfect” your “good enough.” 

Improve Your Self-Talk

Often times, the main thing that holds perfectionists back from achieving their goals is that voice inside their heads telling them:

  • “Everything is riding on me doing this right.”
  • “I’m still not good enough.”
  • “If what I’m doing isn’t perfect, it isn’t worth doing.”
  • “I’m just being lazy.”

This is negative self-talk, and all it is doing is keeping you down. Once you become aware of this inner voice, try replacing its negative words with positive ones, such as:

  • “If this isn’t perfect, it’s not the end of the world.”
  • “If it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”
  • “I have put my work in, and now I deserve a break.”
  • “I am trying my best, and I am getting better all the time.”
  • “I am worth more than my achievements”

Not only will positive self-talk improve your emotional well-being, but it will also keep you motivated to achieve your goals. That’s because it dispels self-doubt and replaces it with self-belief. 

Instead of using your self-talk to criticise and berate yourself, use it to give yourself credit for what you have achieved. If you feel yourself getting stressed out, try thinking of three things that you’ve done right. This could be as simple as: 

  1. I tried my best. 
  2. I put in the time and effort to get this done. 
  3. I asked for help when I was stuck. 

Give Yourself Deadlines, Then Make Yourself Move On

For many perfectionists, their unrealistic standards and negative self-talk cause them to spend so much time and energy trying to make something perfect, that they never actually end up finishing anything.  

Next time you’re faced with a challenge, remember: It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just do something

One way to do this is by setting deadlines for yourself. For example, if you are working on a presentation for a meeting with potential clients, give yourself until the end of the day to work on it. That means that once the clock hits 5 pm, you have to be done, no matter what state the presentation is in. 

Ensure that these deadlines are useful by:

  • Always allowing yourself ample time to complete your challenge — and perhaps even some extra time to perfect it — but not enough time to obsess over it. 
  • Breaking your project or challenge into manageable tasks or time increments. This helps you stay focused on the work you are doing, rather than your high expectations for the finished result. 
  • Organising something fun or important to do once your time is up. Not only will this work as your reward, but it will also keep you from spending extra time striving for perfection. 

Are you ready to get out there and actually do something to get closer to achieving your goals? Check out how I can help you today! 

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