For many years, I’ve thought of myself as being a perfectionist.
But now, I’m reconsidering whether I should carry this title at all.
Because honestly, I’ve discovered it can be quite costly.
I Googled the word “perfectionism” just to try to understand it better. I know how I experience my perfectionist tendencies, but I wanted to see how it’s understood by the “world” generally. Here’s part of what I found:
Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations… In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal, and their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals…
You could say that there are merits to perfectionism. However, there are also disadvantages.
Perfectionists fear that a mistake will lead others to think badly of them; the performance aspect is intrinsic to their view of themselves. They are haunted by uncertainty whenever they complete a task, which makes them reluctant to consider something finished.
In other words…
The Curse in Perfectionism
I made a decision several years ago (they’re actually too many in my opinion to ‘say out loud’) that I wanted to have an online business.
The freedom to be my own boss was quite attractive. And the fact that I discovered quite early that I’m not employable… I get bored too fast. And I just prefer being laid back and working on my own schedule. That’s something I discovered bosses don’t necessarily like 🙂
Anyhow, back to the curse of perfectionism…
So a number of years back, I made a decision to run an online business. And then I set out to research exactly how to do this…
And that’s what I’ve basically been doing all these years.
Trying to figure out the BEST way to do it.
In the meantime, there’s been no online coaching business. No money from it.
Because I was still trying to figure out how to make it PERFECT.
I made several attempts to start. But none of them met my high standards, so I let them go. I didn’t see how I could expose my online business to the world when it was not perfect.
Looking back, I think I was being silly.
Honestly. Perfect? Really?
I mean… While doing my research, I came across other online businesses that did not meet my description of ‘perfect’. Yet they were online…
AND making money. [I know they were making money because I actually invested in their products and programs!!]
Duh! That should have been a HUGE clue to me.
I should have just started.
But I didn’t.
So I’m starting it now 🙂
Perfectionism is Simply a Crutch…
There are many reasons that I did not launch my online business those many years ago.
I may have cloaked it in “I’m trying to get it perfect”, but that’s not really true.
I was simply using “perfectionism” as an excuse. A crutch.
So why did I really delay starting my business?
☑ Fear of not being good enough
☑ Fear of failure
☑ Fear of criticism
That has to be the biggest reason. Fear.
I was afraid about many things…
☑ I don’t have enough certification
☑ I’m not expert enough
☑ My courses are not good enough
☑ My website is not good enough (to share with the world)
☑ My English is not good enough
And on, and on…
I allowed these fears to take over my life and control what I did or did not do. It led to the ugly twin sister of perfectionism…
As a perfectionist, you can have such a great desire to succeed and be “perfect” that you’re afraid to fail. You keep working on your project and looking at how to make it better.
You never want to let go of it, because you’re afraid that there’s one more thing you’ve not yet added to it that would make it even more perfect.
And so you hold on. And procrastinate. You push your deadline…
I know I’ve done this on several occasions.
I set out to accomplish something – a personal project. I start off with gusto. And then when I’m about to ‘finish’, I start judging my work, and it falls short of my imaginary high standards.
I think that my work should be better than this. And so I hold off on launching it.
I’m looking for ideas on how to make it even better.
Thing is, as I look for these ideas, I may sometimes come across some that are extremely challenging to achieve – possibly not in my zone of genius.
So I go off on a tangent, looking for how to accomplish that additional thing that I want to add to my project, even if it’s not in my zone of genius.
And that tends to kill my project before I even launch it.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Good for you!
It’s not fun having this malady.
And that’s why I say that perfectionism is a curse.
Don’t get me wrong. Perfectionism is not all bad.
But taken to extremes, it can be a serious curse. A barrier to progress.
So What Now?
Put up your hand if you consider yourself a perfectionist.
Come on now, you can be honest with yourself.
I won’t tell anyone 😉
If you know that your drive to do things perfectly has been keeping you from progressing…
☑ From launching that coaching program,
☑ Or that training program you’ve been thinking about for months or years
☑ Or writing that blog post…
…you need to find a way to overcome this.
Here’s a new mantra you could adopt to help you along 😉
I can tell you to go a little easier on yourself, but that might not work.
So we have to figure out some practical ways to stop perfectionism from killing our progress.
We must get things done, in spite of perfectionism.
First and foremost, congratulations for recognizing that you’re a perfectionist. That’s a good first step towards taking control.
There are varying degrees of perfectionism, and you might find that loosening up might be more or less difficult for you depending on which form you have.
The important thing is to take one step at a time. Baby steps.
Changing Perspective Might Help
Recognize that the world is not perfect. And you cannot really be perfect.
Yer, yer… I know… You want to make ‘your world’ perfect. But that’s really an impossible goal. Let go of it.
Seriously. One (recovering) perfectionist to another.
Give yourself permission to not be so perfect.
You can safely let go of that thing you’re holding onto and refusing to launch because it’s not yet ‘perfect enough’ for you.
I remember one of my former bosses telling me that my perception of ‘not good enough’ was already other people’s perception of ‘fabulous’ and ‘perfect’. So in his opinion, I should let go of the project I was holding onto.
It was a relief to actually finally let go of it. And the world didn’t collapse as a result of releasing something that was not yet ‘perfect’ in my eyes. And my students thought my course was fabulous… Go figure.
It’s really stressing trying to get things perfect. And as a business owner, it can be a major barrier to your progress.
So… Let go of that ‘almost perfect’ project. Launch it.
Let go of all those excuses you have…
☑ I need to lose more weight first
☑ I need to get THAT certification first
☑ I need to learn how to do THIS first
☑ I need to add THAT glitz or glam first
☑ I need to _______ first [fill in the blank with your excuse 😉 ]
No. You don’t need to do those things first. You’re ready. Your program is ready RIGHT NOW.
Release it. Launch it.
Remember that you can always improve things later.
The fact that something was not totally ‘perfect’ does not make it a failure. So, you’ve not failed if you did not get it ‘perfect’ the first time round.
And to be honest, you won’t die if you release it right now before you do all those things you imagine you need to do first. You’ll continue to live. And you’ll feel so relieved to let go of that one thing.
And you may find that your audience loves what you launch so much that you’ll wonder why you had been holding onto it for so long.
So, just let go of it. Put it ‘out there’.
Remember, the goal is PROGRESS… not perfection. So strive to accomplish something and truly get it out there.
Done is better than perfect.
Stop striving for perfection – you’ll probably never get anything done if you’re stuck in the perfection hamster wheel.
From personal experience, I’ve found that when I have projects in which there are external deadlines, I get things done.
For instance, when I’m working on a project for a client and we have an agreed upon deadline, I will work to make it ‘perfect’ within that time.
How can I use this to get things done?
Getting myself a coach or agreeing on a deadline for my personal projects with someone whose opinion I value might come in handy.
A coach may be a better idea because then I’m actually investing money in this relationship.
And since as a perfectionist there’s this fear of letting others down, having a coach may force me to get things done so that I don’t ‘let the coach down’.
Weird, I know.
But if it works, why not?
This is somehow related to changing your perspective. But in some way, it’s a little different.
This has to do with accepting yourself as you are.
And therefore prone to not being perfect.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. To expose your imperfections.
I have them. You have them. We all have them.
So if you do things imperfectly, you’re not odd. You’re normal. And that’s okay.
YOU’RE ENOUGH. Right now. As you are.
Allow yourself to be you. Without trying to be someone you imagine you should be.
Because believe it or not, what the world needs is the real you. Flaws, warts, beauties and all.
You’re good enough.
Make A Move
There were numerous fears that held me back from launching my business those many years back.
And yet, when I think about it, those who started their businesses imperfectly those many years back have achieved some pretty amazing level of success.
They’re further on than they were when they started. And they’re definitely further on than I am.
In the meantime, I’m still standing still, and not taking any steps forward. My loss.
You’ve probably come across this saying:
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear.
I think it’s by Bruce Lee.
And I love it.
In essence, act in spite of the fear. The courage will come after that.
I came across this quote about fear, and it’s helped me to change my approach:
I’m choosing to rise, not run or hide.
I realize that no matter what I make or how perfect I think it is, there will always be people who LOVE it and those who HATE it.
And that’s okay.
Holding back on creating and sharing my expertise with those that need it is really wrong. It denies those who could benefit from my point of view a chance to move from where they are to where they want to be.
And that’s plain selfish of me.
So now, it’s really not about me. It’s about serving you.
And I’ll embrace the discomfort that comes with getting out of my comfort zone and taking imperfect action.
Any kind of action is better than being paralyzed into inaction by my perfectionist drives.
What ‘perfectionist’ excuses are you using to hold you back in your business?
Let go of them.
If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.
— Ivan Turgenev
Don’t wait for when everything is ‘perfect’. Take imperfect action. Learn as you go. It’s better than being paralyzed into inaction. At least then, you make progress.
And in any case, there are never really any mistakes – just lessons. Keep learning!
What are you doing to make sure perfectionism doesn’t hinder your progress?