Feeling the pressure to be perfect? You are not alone. If these pressures are making you feel crazy, you are in the right place!
If you haven’t read part 1, I suggest you read it first because it focuses on why perfectionism is a limiting mindset. Once you know why a change might be in order, we can dive into HOW to go about changing it.
Let me reassure you, developing a productive mindset does NOT mean you have relinquish your work ethic, planning skills or strong attention to detail. I know that was the first thing I thought about when I realized I needed to change.
It also does not mean that you do everything half-assed either.
The first part of developing a productive mindset is redefining what perfection means to us, so that it becomes an achievable goal and we put meaning behind the phrase “perfectly imperfect”. Instead of always perceiving our actions as falling short, we are celebrating them as something achieved, which will translate into more confidence and self-worth.
The second part of a productive mindset is developing the awareness to know when we should leverage our perfectionist leaning tendencies and when to let it go. It’s about balance, folks.
KNOW YOUR WHY
Start by defining why you are driven to perfection. I would even write it down. We often think that being perfect will protect us from something, like judgment from others (that’s me!!!).
I also use it as a way to protect myself from the unknown. Sometimes I trick myself into believing that if I make everything perfect, then the future will somehow be less unknown – which is simply not true!
It is important to know why because only after we know what drives our behavior can we consciously begin to associate that perfection won’t protect us from our fears. This makes it a little easier to let go. We can also start to think about real strategies for overcoming those fears.
CHANGE YOUR LABELS
The labels that we use to describe ourselves are really powerful influences on our behavior. How we label and describe ourselves is a signal to our brain that this is part of our identity.
Science shows that it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to behave in any way that is contradictory to our identity. That’s why I have started eliminating “perfectionist” in any form, including “recovering perfectionist”, from my vocabulary in how I describe myself. Now, I’m a person who does the best they can everyday, which is all we can do anyways, right?
YOU CAN HAVE A PERFECT LIFE
Whaa?!?!? You’re probably thinking that I’ve forgot what I wrote in part 1, you know, the part about perfection being unattainable. But, through redefining what perfection means to us, we CAN achieve our version of perfect.
For me, my new definition of perfect is when I put forward my best effort to meet my top values in life – love for myself and others, growth and wisdom, and honesty and authenticity. As long as I can look back at the day and said I gave it my best effort, then it was perfect.
Here’s an example of how this works. Formerly, I used to be deathly afraid to make mistakes and would get very upset if someone would point out that I had made a mistake. Well, now I know that owning the mistake and learning from it will make me wiser helping me to meet one of my top values, so now I say BRING IT ON. What was formerly a source driving perfection, negativity and fear in me has been re-framed to a positive.
Even if my day blows up in my face and I do EVERYTHING wrong, ultimately, if I spend some time to reflect on that and think about why, then I’m still meeting those values. The trick here is that your new definition should make it HARD for you to feel negatively about yourself.
In order for your new definition to work, you need to develop some self-awareness. If we don’t notice when perfection is causing us to feel self-doubt, panicked, stressed, or negativity, it will be hard to alter behaviors in the future. This will take practice. I repeat, this will take practice.
At first, try to reflect at the end of each day where perfection influenced your actions and identify what you can do differently next time. Eventually, you will be able to self-correct in the moment if you notice that perfection is driving you to a negative outcome. The more you practice it, the better you’ll get, just like anything else.
The other part of awareness is beginning to recognize situations that would benefit from the use of your perfection skills, and which situations would benefit from more efficiency and speed. Now that I practice this, especially in a work setting, it’s actually rather satisfying to know that I let something go instead of wasting boatloads of time to make something perfect when it really didn’t matter.
I no longer spend time re-reading every email three or four times to make sure it’s perfect, unless it’s really important. A typo does not mean that I’m a bad person or not smart!
A WORD ON PLANNING
I still strongly believe if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Planning does help boost confidence and makes us more educated to face the situations ahead. But, we will still need to exercise awareness and match the planning effort appropriately with the magnitude of the event.
Once you finish planning, let go of any attachment to the outcome and use that strong work ethic to develop fabulous adaptability skills instead of clinging to the plan. This will save you a ton of stress and allow you to handle any situation with much more ease.
This is not a quick fix by any means and will be a process that takes time and patience. We’ve spent a long time in our lives living this way; so don’t expect overnight change – aka PERFECTION. I like to think of it as a giant feedback loop, in which I get better each time.
The time you put into shifting your mindset to something more productive will allow you to face each day with more confidence, happiness and worth.
Good enough, is really effin’ good ~ Brené Brown
Contact me if you want to learn more about how to define your values or if you have questions about your specific situation. I’m happy to help:)