Do the words “good enough” make you cringe? Do you hold off pulling the trigger until all your ducks are in a perfectly straight row? If 98% of anything is right, do you find yourself focusing on that less than perfect 2%?
If you are nodding your head right now, you might just be suffering from a case of Perfectionism.
If your need for everything to be “perfect” causes you stress and stops you from taking steps forward in your life or business, there is a problem. We’re all familiar with “plateaus” in dieting and exercise, but according to Bob Sullivan, co-author of The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success, “If you’re still held captive by a fear of failure or trying new things, you’ve hit perhaps the most toxic plateau cause of all: perfectionism.”
It is normal and healthy to take pride in your work or to have a desire to be masterful in your given field. But if your need for things to be a particular way or for tasks to be done in a ritualized order creates extreme psychological distress, you might be experiencing a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is different than perfectionism. A skilled therapist can help you find relief if you are suffering with OCD.
I have a challenge for you this week. I want you to identify the area(s) in your life where you stay stuck because you keep telling yourself that you have to wait until things are perfect before you move forward. Can you consider that the voice of perfection is really your fear mind or your Mafia Mind trying to protect you from a perceived threat? When you actually think about it, the worst thing that can happen if take a risk is that you might fail. Which is unavoidable if you are ever going to actually DO anything. Fear of criticism and humiliation are usually at the root of fear of failure.
Well, I have two pieces of advice for you from one of my nearest and dearest pals Danielle LaPorte.
First, in regards to criticism: “You can always find someone who thinks you’re an idiot. Speak up any way.”
Your worth as a human is not diminished if things do not turn out as you planned. And for every person who criticizes, there will be plenty more who will happily hold space for your success.
Second, when it comes to going for it: “Launch and learn.”
We’re forever in a learning curve. That’s life and part of the human condition. Learn enough to get something started and then go for it. Put it out there and see what happens. The most successful people learn as they go, and when something doesn’t go as planned, they quickly find the lesson, regroup, and move forward. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an inventor, entrepreneur, or CEO who knew exactly how it was all going to come together before starting their company or a paradigm-shifting project or invention.
The need for perfection can turn into paralysis if you don’t accept that stepping into the unknown is a part of the process. The pure potential of your life or any project exists in the unknown. If you can shift your mindset to accept this truth, you can transform fear into anticipatory excitement! (or at least from dread to trepidation 😉
What one action can you commit to this week to move from plateau to progress?
Remember, there is no such thing as perfection, just messy and potentially exciting human experiences.
I hope you have an amazingly imperfect week, and, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
Thanks for writing about this, Terri! It’s comforting to know from the comments that I’m not the only one feeling this “afraid to make a mistake so I just won’t decide or do anything” feeling. It has kept me from moving forward and following God’s will, but thankfully God is patient and He wants me to live the best life possible in Him. He’s been helping me realize my weaknesses and encouraging me through His words from the bible and also through helpful articles such as yours. Keep up the good work and God bless you!
I’ve moved into my first one bedroom apartment and it has been a stress trying to decorate the place so that it is functional and fits my style. The problem is that the options are so infinite that I’ve been paralyzed on what to do. The bigger/more expensive the item is that I need to buy (ex: a TV unit) the more I cant decide what would look good/work with the other items I have. However, I’ve decided that I need to just pick a TV unit this week. My fear is that I wont be able to return it or that I wont like it and I’ll be stuck in this perpetual indecisive-perfectionist rut. I will launch and learn, I will buy something to put my TV on and if I don’t like it, I will sell it, take it back or put it somewhere else in my apartment.
Ok I will hold you to it! Remember Alicia that stress and anxiety around smaller things can be an indicator that there are bigger things you are unconsciously stressed about but not thinking about. So give yourself space to step back from the design/apartment stress and see if something else is actually concerning you.
For some people just making a decision can be stressful but you can do it! <3
Hi Terri. I am a recent reader of your site, and I love the easy-to-read format and accompanying video post, that helps wonderfully to reiterate good advice and provide an almost in-person sense of reassurance (which is something I really need on a cloudy, quiet, anxiety laden Monday morning). Your advice is so spot on, since my perfectionism has pretty much led to paralysis at my end (with regards to career related endeavours). You know, even when it comes to taking advice, my perfectionist streak shows up in wanting to do something perfectly, or not at all. But I am going to replay your video when I start down that mental track, and hopefully, one small imperfect step at a time, things will get better. Have a great week:-)
Welcome to our groovy community-we are so glad you are here! Yes one imperfect glorious step at a time my friend. The joy is in the journey <3
I pledge to select and price the paintings I want to sell.
Right on Kathy!!!
Mission Accomplished. Priced my paintings and prints. Created a Facebook page for them as a prelude to see what people like. Website will be up and running shortly. Thank you so much for your motivation and inspiration Terri 🙂 xx Kathy