According to author Anne Lamott: Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
What does perfectionism do to you? Does is stop you from putting yourself out there? Does it stop you from finishing creative projects? Does it make you feel like you’ll never be good enough? Does it work you too hard? Or does it make you want to give up and not even try?
I know all about perfectionism. Lately, I’ve been recording videos for a couple of multi-media projects…and it’s taken me a lot longer (much) than I expected. One reason, is that when I started, I kept trying to get it perfect. All of it. The sound, the shot, my appearance, my vocal intonation, and on and on. But alas, between the tech issues, and my mistakes, it was far from perfect. I realized it would never BE perfect. And, I was driving myself crazy trying.
So I relaxed. And I took my own advice. I began welcoming the glitches. Learning from each one. And I enjoyed feeling my creative flow, untethered by the constrictions of perfection.
Once I relaxed into the imperfection of the process, everything got easier. I felt more productive, finding solutions that I never would have found if I had stayed in the vicious do-over cycle. And I finally finished my most important video, and it’s not perfect. But it’s finished and it’s perfect for me at this time.
So many of my clients tell me how perfectionism is truly the voice of the oppressor, just as Anne Lammott said.
It holds them back, forcing them to hide their work for fear that it’s not perfect.
Makes them do far more work than is necessary
Stresses them out.
Keeps them on edge.
Fills them with resentment when they see others doing what they wish they could do.
Prevents them from enjoying their work.
Keeps them pretending they are who they’re not.
And on and on. It’s time to let it go. Here are some suggestions:
Notice what it’s doing to you. Observe yourself within a situation where you’re attempting perfection. Notice how you feel. Notice what you do to attain ‘perfection’. Notice what goes wrong when you try. Observe, and ask yourself if this pursuit of perfection is truly how you want to spend your time and energy.
Get clear on your personal best possible outcome. Often, we reach for someone else’s vision of perfection. Certainly, it’s beneficial to learn from others as we improve our skills, however, it can be easy to create unreasonable expectations based on someone else’s results. When we don’t meet these expectations it can lead us to give up, or put undue pressure on ourselves to perform. You can always, always, do your best. Accept your current abilities and do the best with what you have. Create your vision of your best possible outcome with what you have right now.
Redefine what perfection means to you. Each mistake and misstep has the potential to teach you something new. When you accept your mistakes with compassion, and humor, it opens the door to perfect solutions. Acceptance leads to relaxation, which makes it easier to get things done. Help yourself see imperfections as perfect for what you need to learn and accept about yourself.
Notice the beauty within imperfection. Go examine the design of the wood grain in a hard wood floor. Observe the bark of the trunk of a big old tree. Handle a piece of hand-thrown pottery. Notice how beauty unfolds from even from chaos. Leonard Cohen expressed this beautifully with these words:
Ring the bells that can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Use EFT Tapping. EFT works to help clear perfection’s oppressive shell, and the underlying feelings of stress, anxiety, and self doubt. I’m currently finalizing the Tap Into Courage Toolkit for Entrepreneurs, Solopreneurs, and Creatives. It’s designed to help clear the most common blocks to success. One of the modules is all about Perfectionism, since it can be one of the biggest blocks. If you’d like a free trial of the Perfectionism module once it’s available, contact me.
Truly, letting go of perfectionism is one of the most liberating, joyful things you can ever do for yourself.