What unrealistic expectations will do to your life and business success
Entrepreneurs and perfectionism don't mix. I am so passionate about the topic of perfectionism because I think it is a nasty disease that's growing as fast as diabetes in the United States and undermining your creativity, success and wealth. Just like diabetes it can go undetected until there are real (life and business) health problems.
When you start thinking that you are broken, that something is wrong with you, that you have bad luck, are not good, smart or worthy enough to have success and live a wealthy life the perfectionist dis-ease is already consuming your healthy sense of self.
So I am asking you to take the time, even if you don't think you are a perfectionist, to really look inside yourself and ask two simple questions:
Am I highly critical of others and myself?
Do I often think after I complete something, I could/should have done better?
Am I usually disappointed in myself?
The Secret Killer of Success, Creativity and Accumulating Wealth
Entrepreneurs and creative people are full of amazing, valuable ideas. You probably come up with new ideas daily. But then you put off doing something because you want to know how it will turn out before you put the energy in it. Because you've never done this before (or maybe nobody's ever done this before!) you are worried about making mistakes. Or what if this idea is great and people love it? Then you might stand out, get a lot of attention, and have people ask you questions.
When you make the decision to actually do something, you go for it. But if you aren't sure your decision is the right one because you don't know how everything will turn out in your favor, you will procrastinate and not go for it.. Things need to be just so, or else you're wasting your time, right? It would be embarrassing if someone noticed you didn't have all the answer and know exactly how to meet your goal or develop your product.
Did you identify with any of the above? Wake up, you are holding yourself back with your perfectionism. Yes! You probably are a perfectionist.
There's a good reason so many of you are perfectionists.
The need to be loved and accepted are the reason for perfectionist childhood vows
As a child you made a Vow To Be Perfect because you think it is necessary for you to survive, feel safe and be loved. Because you were not getting your needs met and feared for your safety you created a strategy. If you are a "good" girl/boy and behave like people want you to behave, then you will get what you need and desire, feel safe and loved.
Some examples of childhood vows that create the perfectionist in you:
• If I'm good enough and make them (parents/spouse/boss/friends....) happy then I will be happy.
• If I become the nurturer and make people feel better, then I will feel safe because I am needed and loved for what I do for them.
• If I am perfect, then my depressed, addicted, or physically ill parent will get better and then take care of me. I won't be abandoned.
• If I behave like a perfect angel/ god boy, then I will be worthy of love and good things in life
• If I follow all the rules and cause any problems , I won't get physically/verbally/sexually abused by anyone
• If follow all the rules, then I will go to heaven
We all have a little bit of perfectionism in us and that's good because it helps you to strive to be your best self and create amazing results in your life. But it quickly gets in your way when your attention is always focused outward, concerned with what others will think of you if you're not perfect.
When the vow to be perfect limits your purpose and passions from being expressed you need to manage your inner critic and redefine success.
Perfectionism at its extreme dis-empowers you and prevents you from being creative, innovative, and intuitive, and keeps you from being a risk taker and expand your ability to be of service (and live a wealthy life). It keeps your life energy low and doesn't benefit anyone, least of yourself. Trust yourself and that you will come up with solutions to whichever problem you might encounter. You will be surprised about how innovative you become after you take the first steps to creating something. The opportunities and people that come your way when you just get started and follow your intuition will help you excel, not having everything laid out perfectly before you begin.
Here is how perfectionism limits you:
• Perfectionism turns you into a people-pleaser rather than a leader, team player, teacher, or innovator. Doing things to look good or make others feel good without any concern for yourself keeps you from being your authentic self.
• You become less efficient. When you complete projects you keep looking for ways to improve it and never get done. It not only leads to a lot of unfinished products, but also to unhappiness because you are always left wanting more and don't feel accomplished and you spend way more time on a task than is required.
• You procrastinate, as you wait for a "perfect" moment when you know "it will all work out." Your desire to "perfect" everything makes you over-complicate everything with the expectation of perfection that can never be meet. So you keep thinking about it and don't take action until you have to. You don't want to feel the pain of rejection, humiliation, disappointment or criticism that you expect should it not be perfect.
• You become less effective. You do simple things because they seem like a "good addition" without consciously thinking whether they're really necessary. You do things that make you feel busy but don't move the big picture towards completion. These busy distractions keep you from having to put yourself out there.
• You become lost in the details and loose the bigger picture. Your world becomes what you are working on and not the vision.
• You focus on potential problems rather than creating and setting yourself up for success and your goal.
Perfectionism becomes a problem when it turns into an obsession.
When you obsess over every detail, your vow to be perfect becomes neurotic and you refuse to accept anything less than perfect. In this process, you miss the whole point about life being a journey not a string of perfect results. Federica Marchionni, the CEO of Lands End said in the current issue of Marie Claire "I'm always saying that perfection doesn't exist. Excellence is good enough." And she has a good point. Perfection doesn't exist! But that doesn't mean you can't strive to do something well, to becomes amazing at something, to strive for excellence.
The answer isn't to stop being a perfectionist. It's to be conscious of your perfectionist tendencies and manage them accordingly. When you can see yourself holding back because you think you need to be perfect before you can take even the first step, you have create compassion for your inner-child's programming and redirect your awareness to the bigger picture and what is really important.
Here are 3 steps I take to override my vow to be perfect:
1. I strive for 80% completion, because I will never reach 100%. I can always find something that can be better. It used to take me a couple of days writing an important email because it was never perfect! Now I trust my intuition about the topic and give myself a couple of hours at the most.
2. I make sure I don't take myself so seriously! This is so important! I stay very light-hearted and when I see my perfectionist thinking running back and forth between the past and the future I show compassion for myself and stop it. I get myself present in the moment and realizing that in this moment there is no problem!
3. I do tapping to stop the fight/flight response I feel when the inner critic appears or I'm feeling unsafe. (See video link below and use my guided tapping session)
(If you want to tap along this guided tapping session watch this:)
It is not easy to let go of your deeply hidden habits to be perfect. You created them to feel safe and secure. To change your perfectionist thinking will require you to become conscious about your perfectionist thinking and notice where it is sabotaging and dis-empowering you. You have to become aware of the thoughts and habits and accept them while staying compassionate. Make it a habit to recognize thoughts that are critical of yourself or others. Notice when you are criticizing yourself or others or when you feel disappointed in yourself or someone else. Keep track of it in a journal. You are going to be amazed to see how often you have those self-defeating and 'perfectionist' thoughts and for what reasons. Realize what these thoughts and (in)actions are costing you. It is a very stressful way of being and thinking with no positive outcomes or celebrations.
If you have the tendency to criticize yourself and others or are often disappointed in yourself, call me for a complimentary FREEDOM FROM PERFECTIONISM DISCOVERY SESSION. Together we will explore your what is limiting you and what next steps you can take to turn your life ON and reach your goals. Call (805) 883-8598 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.