“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~ Anna Quindlen
Did you know that as a perfectionist, you are really your own worst enemy? When you insist on everything being perfect, instead of living your best life and being your best self, what you are really doing is heaping a pile of unrealistic expectations on yourself and causing unnecessary stress.
That fear of not being good enough is at the root in many instances of perfectionism. People with self-confidence and self-esteem issues are often perfectionists because for them, their sense of self-worth is all tangled up with their accomplishments.
What happens in these cases is that the perfectionist sets their own expectations so high they set themselves up for defeat right from the start. And because you are under so much pressure — aka stress — to perform at this high level all the time, your body goes into self-defense mode, thinking it’s in danger even when it’s not.
The other way that perfectionism works for stress and against you is that it paralyses you into not taking any action. As an entrepreneur, that inaction can cost you sales, clients, and ultimately your business. If you are not putting products and services out to your market because you think they are not perfect you are not only creating stress around the actual product creation, you also create stress for yourself by putting yourself in a position that threatens your livelihood.
So what’s a perfectionist to do?
Since perfectionism is a learned habit, the obvious solution is to just stop it.
That, however, is easier said than done. When you want to send your perfectionist habits on their way, here are a few things you can do to make the transition easier.
1. Pay attention to self-talk
To start getting rid of perfectionist habits, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. If you feel you have to be perfect to be acceptable, chances are your self-talk is pretty negative. Telling yourself “I should know that” or “I always do it that way” are good indications that you are being too hard on yourself.
Thinking about what you say to yourself can have a huge impact on both your perfectionism and your self-esteem. When you feel yourself starting to get critical, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is something you would say to a friend. If it’s not, then don’t say it to yourself.
2. Slow down and enjoy the journey
It’s a pretty good bet that as a perfectionist, your expectations are so high that it’s impossible to achieve them no matter how hard you work. One way to get around this is to set realistic goals that you can achieve.
By setting realistic goals, you give yourself time to enjoy the journey from idea to finished project. Set your deadlines far enough in advance that you have time to complete things without being stressed out over deadlines. Also, allow yourself enough flexibility to change things as needed along the way.
No, your final product might not be perfect but it will be good enough. And, you will always have the option of making improvements as you need to.
3. Accept that you’re not perfect
When you’re used to thinking that everything has to be perfect, it’s really hard to let that go. But I’m telling you, you will go a long way to reducing stress and improving your self-esteem if you do.
Give 100 percent to everything you do, let yourself accept that your best is good enough and it really will be good enough! And on the days when you really struggle to believe this, accept that too, and start again tomorrow. Because here’s the thing…
If you’ve done the best you could do at the time, then there is really nothing more to do. Beating yourself up because you couldn’t do anything more just causes you more stress.
You are enough just as you are. Your self-esteem is not measured by how much you do or how well you do it. Self-esteem comes from within, and perfectionism is not required.