Perfectionism fuels fear and cunningly taunts us with illusions that kill success, leaving us spinning.
Perfectionists aren’t the ones who appear perfect, and they often don’t achieve the success they hope for. If you’re tempted to read further, you most likely share the streak of perfectionism I do. Perfectionism is often seen as an integral part of success. An obsession with editing, creating and designing until its perfect and successful. That’s not really the case.
Perfectionism is a form of distraction. A protective mechanism we develop from any number of life’s difficult lessons and hardships we’ve encountered. Its our emotional technique to soothe our anxious minds and souls. Here’s what it looks like, and how it can really deter the success you are oh so perfectly trying to achieve.
Perfectionism is a Road Block. You think you are driving on the highway to greatness, but there is a road block, and you can’t find the right detour, so you keep hitting the same stopping point. Perfectionism takes your mind in a circle. Let’s say you just heard from a customer who wasn’t happy with your work. Uh oh. Perfectionism starts brewing and results in an intense feeling of disappointment. That’s where you get stuck and everything stops. Your perfect product can’t hold up to standards in your mind, so this news is a disaster. What you don’t realize, is a business with 100% happy customers doesn’t exist. Its fine to have an un-perfect product. Rather than pursuing reasons there is some push back in your business, you’re stuck sinking in disappointment.
Perfectionism Fuels Fear. The fear of creating something that doesn’t have every detail designed, placed and over-analyzed drives you. Sure, there’s a passion at the root, but you are pushing yourself to reach your success with the fuel of fear. Success doesn’t respond to that kind of energy, but self-doubt does. If you push with passion and an open mind, you might find that your definition of success is fueled by the same perfectionism. Shifting views and running on new juice puts you on a different path that takes you away from the roadblock. Ann Voskamp cleverly calls perfectionism, The Perfectionist Terrorist. The fear of failure is paralyzing to our dreams, and the “perfectionist terrorist” tells you that won’t be successful if there is any small failure at all.
Perfectionism is the Off Brand. Have you ever bought the off-brand of your favorite product, and it just wasn’t right? I’ve done that more than a few times trying to save a few pennies here and there. Its just not what I want. Well, perfectionism creates an ideal of success based on what other’s look like they’ve achieved. We look at others near us and attempt to reach their success. We create a version of success that isn’t based on reality, so we become a hamster running on a wheel. If you use other’s success to measure your own, you won’t get there. You don’t know their success or what’s real, so its an illusion of success your perfectionist self has created. Ann Voskamp makes this statement about the terrorist, and she says,
The Perfectionist Terrorist is a liar to the nth degree — he tells you that if you’d just get it perfect enough, do it right enough, be good enough — — that you’ll be liked by everyone enough.
But the truth of it is? Sometimes you have to accept that you’ll never be acceptable enough for some people. And whether you accept that as their issue or yours — is up to you.
How do we throw perfectionism out the window?
The simple answer is, just accept that there will be failures. But can perfectionists really do that? Well, it takes a lot of reworking your thoughts and mindset. The better way to answer the question is to re-focus. Focus on being present in what you are doing, rather than perfect. Do you feel your best? Did you produce your best? Sometimes your best was long ago, but you reworked, rewrote and re-created so many times without improving. Many perfectionists start something, work so hard to make it perfect that they give up, never achieving what they wanted. Jump in focusing on creating something that is beautiful, something that is imperfect and something that you can continue to grow. Believe that if you let go of making something perfect, you aren’t letting go of making it successful. Letting go of perfectionism still allows you to achieve the goals you’ve set and become the achiever you want to be. Start there.
Originally published at medium.com