I am working on my perfectionism. How about you? It’s hard sometimes, especially with my business, to let things go when I’m not totally satisfied with them. Videos that have me stumbling on a word or two, blog posts that don’t entirely say what I’m looking to give to you, or conversations and speeches, when what is in my head doesn’t come out of my mouth.
I’ve been exploring how, we as women hold ourselves back and perfectionism is one way that jumps to the front of the line. It’s a pretty big topic especially for women looking to get to the next level in their business or life.
Perfectionism is described as a “personal” standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less. Wow! That is so harsh and to think it’s something that we impose upon ourselves too. To be perfect is described as conforming absolutely to an ideal type. But according to whom?
Many women have perfectionism tied directly to their self-worth but the crux of the situation is that there is no perfect. Perfect is always moving in your mind which is why you never achieve it and stress yourself out.
Here’s what you need to know about perfectionism and what you can do about it:
1. It’s a moving target. You, in your own mind, are the one who defines perfection. Let’s take body image or weight as an example. How many of you wish you could lose some weight? “Get back to what you were 15 years ago.” How many of you were actually satisfied with where you were at 15 years ago? More than likely you weren’t because 15 years ago you wanted to weigh less too.
- Tip: Set the target. Create a goal that is only for you, be sure that it is specific and something that you move towards. Be sure to include all the reasons why you want this for you, relying on facts not emotions.
2. Who benefits from your perfectionism? It usually isn’t you, especially if it negatively affects you, by feeling doubt, stress, anxiety, etc. When it comes to body image, were you aware that there are billions of dollars spent in advertising for personal care items and services each year, everything from surgery to skincare and they target you for a reason? When you can examine who REALLY benefits from your perfectionism it will help you to say no to unrealistic expectations. What about the committees you are on or the company you are at? They are certainly the ones to benefit from the extraordinary effort you put into your work and what if it was a little more “win/win”?
- Tip: Look at who is REALLY benefiting from your perfectionism. Energy needs to flow 2 ways in any situation to be equitable. What are you giving? What are you getting back? It’s great to do something selflessly but not when it’s so much that it negatively impacts you. An indicator would be resentment. Look at how you can balance what you give.
3. By judging others you actually perpetuate perfectionism. Not only in their world with what you may say (or imply) but especially in YOUR own world by mentally stating that there is a standard to be upheld. Says who? If you judge someone else then you also judge yourself. You wouldn’t recognize the deficiency unless the potential wasn’t also contained in you.
- Tip: Recognize that you are making a judgement and ask yourself if what you are thinking/saying is what you would actually say to a young child. If it’s not, then seek a little compassion or empathy in the situation by finding what is working, what is positive. Seek the sameness not the differences.
4. Who are you doing this for? Is it really you? Is this something you are wanting because you genuinely desire it, or is it something you think others expect of you? Are you trying to please someone else? Are you going for the promotion because it’s what’s expected or are you really happy with where you are and what you’re doing? Are you losing the weight because you desire to be healthier or is it because you think your husband would appreciate you more?
- Tip: Find out what YOU value most. If this is about your career or business, then what is most important to you about that area of life? Whatever you are doing, have you thought about what YOU want the experience to be like? Is it important that work be collaborative? Fun? Challenging? That you are appreciated? Respected? Get clear on what is most important to YOU and make your decisions for yourself, not to gain the approval of another.
5. Sizzle Reel vs. Raw Footage. Most often in trying to be perfect there is some sort of comparison going on but usually you are comparing their sizzle reel to your raw footage. In a commercial, TV show or movie there are hours and hours of footage that is edited down to the “best” parts and that’s what the world gets to see. Only the best parts. All the junk that took place behind the scenes gets edited out. It’s the same thing with seeking perfection according to someone else’s life or standards. You’re only seeing the best and not the junk.
- Tip: Realize you don’t have the whole picture. There is more than what you see behind the scenes and unless you have a conversation with that person, you really don’t know if the perfect life, job, relationship, etc. is a reality and more than likely it’s not.
6. Be aware of the language. What you think and say becomes suggestions to your Unconscious Mind. “I need to be perfect…”, “It needs to be perfect…”, and “It’s not perfect yet.” When you are thinking and speaking this way it makes the goal unrealistic and a moving target, which is where frustration, stress and overwhelm come in.
- Tip: A subtle shift in your language will go a long way to helping you “grow” instead of chasing an unrealistic standard and finding yourself lacking. Try saying “I am working at improving…” or “I am working on being better at…” Then you have room to expand and grow as a person.
7. Messing up. Making a mistake is actually a gift. If you’ve made a mistake then actually you are taking action and you aren’t stuck, which is great news! If you’ve made a mistake then you have new information to act from the next time. Not to mention the fact that an obstacle means you are one step closer to your goal!
- Tip: Look at the mistake as having happened FOR you and not TO you. The difference is when something happens TO you, you are the victim, and you have no power. When something happens FOR you, then there is specifically something in it to help you, if you’re willing to look for it and then act on it. Lessons are a great thing!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and they help you be less critical of yourself while you are pursuing whatever is next for you in life. Which of the above tips is the most difficult for you? Start there and take small steps on becoming better in that area.
Choose progress over perfection.
Until next time, here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve!
Debbie Peterson is the creator of the YOUR Next Chapter Life System, a system designed to help midlife women reinvent their future one chapter at a time. Debbie is the CEO of Getting to Clarity, and is a professional speaker, trainer and coach who helps midlife women build Confidence and get Clarity on their Identity and Purpose.
Want to explore working with her? Click HERE for your Complimentary Session.