I'm a recovering perfectionist. For years, I struggled with having and doing everything right. I have always been an overachiever. But somehow this was different. The difference between perfectionism and excellence is setting goals and taking extraordinary measures to reach them. When it didn't happen, I felt like a fraud and a failure. I came face to face with my perfectionism during my marriage and it wasn't pretty. On the outside I was "successful" in a number of areas. But inside I feared it was never enough. I had this idea that I had to be strong and in control for everyone else because if I showed any type of vulnerability or asked for help, I would appear weak and people would think less of me. So in one year, I lost my husband, my baby and almost my life. This was my wakeup call.
Many people struggle with perfectionism and its cousin procrastination. When things turn out well, we're elated and when they turn out bad, we're depressed. Everything has to be just right. We need more to feel better. More clothes when we have a closet full, more money when our bank account is overflowing, more education to start a business, more training, more, more. The reality is that you don't need more and things are never going to be perfect.
The key to moving past perfectionism is being forgiving of life's mishaps and letting go of the fear. Things happen, but how we react to them is ultimately how we can move to a place where perfectionism doesn't live and isn't welcomed.
Here are some ways to create a healthy dose of excellence without being perfect.
- Be gentle with yourself and others -- If you know you have given something 100 percent of your effort, and it doesn't turn out perfect, its ok. Don't beat yourself up but resolve to either try it again or move on. Be happy with the process rather than the end result. If someone lets you down, recognize that they too are human. No one does everything right. Give them some grace.
It is possible to free yourself from a perfectionist mindset and shift to one of excellence. It wont happen overnight, but it will happen in the time it's supposed to. Practice loving yourself more and pretty soon, you'll be walking a steady path to building confidence and happiness.