Listen, there’s a difference being having a standard of excellence and being a perfectionist. Learning the distinction is the difference being a high-performer and underachiever.
Having a standard of excellence means you want things to be done in the best way based on the available resources. Perfectionism is about wanting things to be without flaw, which isn’t possible. The first is about the best possible execution and the latter is about being perfect.
It’s all smoke and mirrors when it comes to being a perfectionist though.
Let me keep it 100 with you.
Perfectionism is really just fear of failure. Don’t be fooled.
Most perfectionist spend (read: waste) so much time preparing, getting all the information, all the materials, all the people and waiting for the stars to align so they can go and do something. It’s all to serve as a distraction and deflect from the fact that things might not go as planned.
And if we’re being completely transparent, it’s more about what missing the mark says about them then actually missing the mark itself.
We’re always assigning meaning to things. We have hidden beliefs that manifest into actions that dictate the trajectory of our lives. Sometimes these beliefs serve us and other times they don’t.
Let me be clear, perfectionism will never serve you.
It will never be beneficial to you. It will only rob you of your happiness, dreams and accomplishments.
If you want to prevent that from happening, you need to change your beliefs and how to interact with them. And just as a fallback, you need to set some backups in place to keep you from going off track into the land of perfection.
Throughout my journey to rid myself of perfectionism, I’ve tapped into countless resources. I’ve watched thought leaders speak, read books, and applied all kinds of productivity hacks to cure myself of this disease.
Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to let go of perfectionist ways and lead a productive life:
Change your hidden beliefs
Your belief system is powerful. What you believe influences what you think, what you say and what you do.
I heard people say in one form or another, “it has to be perfect!”
And I’m always like, “says who?”
There’s usually a single or series of life events that makes you believe that you have to do one thing or another. It’s a part of the human experience.
The important thing to take note of is the fact that we get to choose what we believe in, and in turn, choose what kind of life we get to live.
If you want to let go of perfectionist way, choose it.
I know from first-hand experience that perfectionism doesn’t serve anyone, so why not choose something that does?
Give yourself permission to fail
The first step to overcoming your perfectionist ways is to understand that perfection doesn’t exist.
When you do this, you gain the understanding that failure is part of the process. Most people don’t learn anything from win, but they have life-changing revelations after loses.
So the sooner you give yourself permission to fail, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Someone smart once said that the expert has failed more times than the novice has tried.
Isn’t it ironic that the most successful people are also the biggest failures?
Let that marinate…
Perfectionists tend to bite off more than they can chew. This tend to lead to overwhelm and burnout after a while.
Starting small gives you an opportunity to level up inch by inch until you complete your goal.
So instead of going out and running 10 miles at once, maybe you run 1 mile a day for the next 10 days.
Incremental growth matters. It’s sustainable and realistic.
Keep high levels of accountability
I’ve found that having accountability partners help with my bouts with perfectionism.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m part of mastermind group that meets weekly. Listen, we push each other hard to grow and evolve on every level.
In order to truly be held accountable, I had to share the things that I struggle with. Perfectionism is definitely one of them. I intentionally put this on my bros radar so they can call me out on it if they see me moving in that tired.
As a result, I’ve become much more decisive and open to iteration. This has lead to me accomplishing things that would’ve likely taken me much longer to pull the trigger on.
How? Because my accountability brother keep me from getting in my own way and keep me focused on living in committed action.
And just like that, perfectionism is gone.