The liberation of letting go of perfection

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Perfection! The unattainable dream that we so often choose as our very own personal weapon of torture. If this is you, listen up because as a reformed perfectionist I assure you there is a better road ahead. Consider this "every sunset is perfectly beautiful, but it is different every day from each viewpoint".

I was there on the perfection bandwagon in spades. I was obsessed with perfection so bad that I often simple talked myself out of starting so many things, for fear of failure to reach the unattainable status of perfection. It is a treacherous road to head down and one I highly recommend you avoid said so succinctly by a reformed perfectionist don’t you think. It sometimes seems easier said than done.

Perfectionism can so often be a learned behaviour passed down through generations and it can also lead to many mental health problems in the long term. However, there is some good news. Like many habits passed down, you are actually in control as an adult, so you can choose to change. That’s right you can stop being a perfectionist and believe it or not with some simple small steps to start, it can be easier than you think.

For me, perfectionism was a mindset. I had decided in my head that anything worthwhile doing was worth doing right. That sounds like a good quality doesn’t it? Until it stops you in your tracks from even starting something in the first place. Then it becomes a roadblock to success.

One day I stumbled upon the principle of simply starting. A phrase that I often use when coaching clients today is “all you have to do is start”. It is an interesting concept for a strategic thinker who likes to plan 10 steps ahead. I recall saying once “What do you mean just start, are you mad, we have to plan this out”. When I discovered how to ease up on perfection and planning everything before I started, I learned to let go and something truly magical happened.

When I just decided to start, then answers I didn’t have appeared exactly when I needed them. This happened time and time again and I began to build trust in the process of starting. It was a valuable lesson to learn in life and the practice serves me well even to this very day.

There is a beautiful book call “Tiny Habits” written by a very clear man BJ Fogg, who happens to also be the founder of the behaviour design lab at Stanford University. He developed a system that focuses on small changes to change everything, with an emphasis on starting tiny. If you are struggling with perfection and the principle of starting a change, because you have huge expectations on yourself, you might indeed find that the tiny way is the way for you.

There are however many ways and systems to overcome the trap of perfection. If you would like some help from a reformed perfectionist, get in touch. I can help you to discover some mind hacks that can get you moving forward on a better path.

We all know that perfection is an endless cycle of torture, where a perfectionist is never really satisfied with the results regardless. You can learn how to accept that the best work you did with the tools you had is enough. Do this and you are well on your way to escaping the traps of perfection.

While you are busy beating yourself up, people are getting on with the job and are achieving success. Besides no one even notices except for you, so it’s time to cut yourself some slack and enjoy the liberation of letting go of perfection.

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