“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit for the worst in ourselves; the part that tells us nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try harder.” – Julia Cameron
What are the chances that you are a Perfectionist? What is it costing you?
I hate to admit this to you but I am a perfectionist. It has come at a pretty hefty cost throughout my life; it’s an energy drainer and an exhausting time vampire.
Recently I had what I like to call a mini-meltdown. I lost it. There was way too much on my plate and everything, or so I thought, fell under Stephen Covey’s – Immediate, Important and Urgent Quadrant. The clock was ticking and I realized that I was not going to make my deadlines; I started to feel panicky.
I looked at my son Rock hoping to get some sympathy. Instead, I noticed that he was really quiet; I could tell he was visibly upset. I thought something had happened at school that was bothering him. I was dead wrong.
I found out that what was bothering him was ME!
His exact words were,
“Mom, why do you have to try to be perfect?”
I was already sobbing, bemoaning my situation, and my knee-jerk reaction was to snap at him and rattle off a slew of excuses. In no uncertain terms, I told him that he didn’t realize the urgency of my dilemma nor did he understand what it was like trying to build a business as a single mom. I explained to him that I was overwhelmed and that there was no one to help me.
Sound like a victim? I guess I was.
Seeing the pain in his eyes was my wakeup call. Fortunately, because he was completely honest with me, I became aware of the implications of my perfectionistic behavior and how it affected someone I loved.
Think about it
What areas of your life do you find yourself trying to make perfect?
Who is waiting for you to break free from your task-master lifestyle?
What is perfectionism costing you?
The Dangerous Cycle of a Perfectionist
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress and success. At its core, perfectionism is striving to attain unrealistic standards based on one’s self-worth. It is rooted in fear and it allows you to unabashedly criticize and judge yourself. Having a perfectionistic mindset leads one to get sucked up into the Dangerous Cycle of a Perfectionist.
Ideas are the currency that fuel entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, we derive energy from innovation. We zealously plunge headfirst into all our projects; feeling emotionally excited and thrilled at the prospect of creating the next big thing. There’s also the element of a chase involved which only heightens the exhilaration.
We rush to take action steps to execute our plans, but then it starts to slow down because we want everything done perfectly. The feelings of excitement quickly turn into feelings of overwhelm. This paralyzes us and without necessarily knowing it, we fall into the next phase of the cycle; procrastination.
It Gets Worse
To make matters worse, when you are in this vicious cycle, creativity is stifled and productivity wanes. In some cases, this behavior causes a strain on relationships. Many times we lose patience and are quick to snap at people; co-workers, team members, and even those close to us; those we love the most.
What can you do to exit this cycle? The great news is that you have the power to change. You can transform yourself into who you want to become; it’s something that’s in your control.
Perfectionism is rooted in fear and forces people to have unrealistic expectations because they don’t believe they are good enough and are afraid to fail. It’s time to address your fears and move forward anyway; progress is better than perfection.
3 Mindset Shifts to Break the Cycle of a Perfectionist
1. Pursue Excellence Not Perfection
Personal excellence is a way of life, not just a life skill; it’s life mastery. A person who lives a life of excellence has solid boundaries in place and lives life with a laser-focused intention. Those who embody excellence have learned how to operate out of their strengths zone and know their life purpose. They are confident people.
When asked about their goals, they have a clear cut vision of how they want to live and what they want to get and give in life. They seldom get caught up in the Cycle of a Perfectionist because they know who they are and set strong intentions. They know that excellence is not about being the best; it is about going all out to be better.
“Striving for excellence feels wonderful because you’re trying your very best. Perfectionism feels terrible because your work is somehow never quite good enough.” – Unknown
2. Drop Your All or Nothing Mindset
Anyone remember playing Milton Bradley’s board game Chutes and Ladders? When my children were little, this was one of their favorite games. There is a spinner, players, and a board with squares on it. The object of the game is to move your player up the ladder to the top; the first person to make it wins.
The problem is that there are built-in snares. If you are unfortunate enough to land on any of the traps, they have the potential to shove you from the top and spiral you all the way down; almost to square one. You have to start all over again.
Can you relate?
Chutes and Ladders illustrates the emotional mindset of a perfectionist. Instead of taking a few steps back emotionally, they take the Chutes and Ladders plunge and become emotionally bankrupt. They feel ALL is lost. They stop and NOTHING gets done.
The bottom line is that entrepreneurs who are perfectionists must learn how to manage their emotions and appreciate the fact that they are good enough. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone by trying to be perfect.
3. Tilt: Be Flexible
One of the assessments I use with my clients is the Tilt 365. The foundation and science behind Tilt is based on the Character Strengths of the 4 Personality Types and how to build agility; in other words, learning when and how to be flexible.
Having a strong base of internal character strengths supports the ability to be flexible. With Perfectionists, flexibility is a missing component, especially when it comes to change.
According to the Tilt framework, using your strengths in a balanced way yields positive outcomes for your life.
So when you catch yourself in a perfectionistic mindset, recognize it as a red flag. More than likely it is a signal that you have a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset and consider tilting your position.
Change Your Inner Dialogue- Tilt Your Mindset:
- “If I’m not the best; I am a failure.”
- “I have worked hard and have given my absolute best effort. I’m proud of that.”
- “This isn’t good enough; I’ll never be good enough.”
- “I’m pretty satisfied with this but I know I can always continue to learn and improve.”
Did you happen to notice that the emphasis here is on the effort, not the person? This one tilt alone is a game changer.
“Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden
Nothing Has Changed/Everything Has Changed
It’s been a couple of weeks since I had my mini-meltdown. What has changed? I can honestly say, “Nothing has changed and everything has changed.”
Nothing Has Changed
My workload is the same. A good chunk of my time is devoted to content creation; social media posts, blogging, writing my upcoming book, creating video scripts, and building my soon to be online course.
In addition to that, I network, work with my business coach, my speaking coach, and my digital marketer. I also meet with my clients, facilitate training groups, and try to maintain my workouts and have strong relationships with each one of my kids. It’s a lot.
Everything Has Changed
But now everything has changed. Why? I am so much more aware of when I’m starting to sneak into the Cycle of a Perfectionist. Usually, I enter the cycle by taking way too much time to complete my tasks. I admire the shining object; attempting to write the perfect paragraph, mulling over the perfect word choice, laboring to find the perfect topic to blog on, researching like a college English Professor the perfect grammatically correct sentences…
It’s different now. I stop myself before that happens. I’ve always been extremely confident in the fact that I’m a hard worker and I constantly strive for excellence. However, unbeknownst to me, I was taking excellence to the level of perfection which we all know is unattainable.
Making this one adjustment has made me a much calmer person while I’m in my task mode. I’m also a better mom and I’m truly enjoying the process rather than exhausting myself trying to be perfect; attempting to attain something that is truly impossible.
“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Carlos Castaneda
It’s not easy for me to be vulnerable and admit all my weaknesses to you. My hope was that by doing so, you may recognize perfectionistic tendencies in yourself and want to tilt; to be flexible enough to change.
If you don’t master the art of breaking your perfectionistic tendencies, you risk the chance of missing golden opportunities right in front of you not to mention wasting precious time which you will NEVER get back.
I will leave you with some wisdom from the ancient words of Confucius,
“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
Think about your future. How close are you to living the life you were designed to live?
Do you know how to push past your limitations and create balance in your life? The Life Clarity Assessment is designed to help you do just that; create awareness.
Are You Ready to Find Clarity and Focus?
Take Transform University’s Life Clarity Assessment to discover your unique blueprint for change so you can embrace courage and walk confidently into a life of greater purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.
Rita helps her clients:
• Embrace their true potential
• Change their limiting beliefs/thoughts
• Create Purpose
• Live Empowered, Confident, and Successful Lives
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