4 Reasons Why Progress Is Better Than Perfection (From A Recovering Perfectionist)
Wanting to achieve perfection can be a trait that is embedded so deep into us (for me it was identified by my Kindergarten teacher!).
You always want to put your absolute best work out there or be the best at something, so you keep on amending and altering what you are working on or yourself until usually, you push too far.
Sadly, this generally results in the task in hand not being finished, because it is never “perfect”. I know how frustrating it can be felt to be stuck in this never-ending circle of being a perfectionist, and so I’m going to share with you how to learn to let go (at least a little bit).
I understand; it’s unnatural to complete a task in a rush and deem it completed even when we know we could have done much better – and I’m not advocating this either, but sometimes it’s too easy for us to get caught up in the trap of wanting everything to be perfect, and doing the complete opposite by wasting too much time on the task at hand.
Generally, the tasks we face in our everyday lives are not a matter of life or death, it’s not the be all and end all if it’s not completely perfect (while it may not seem like that – I speak the truth!). As long as we are putting our heart and soul into the task we can find the needed balance between perfection and progress.
How often do you look at your work and all you can see are the imperfections? Don’t worry, I do it all the time! We also have a tendency to compare our work with others, and theirs always seems to look so much better – we are our own worst critics.
But, what we don’t see is all of the work and struggle that it took that other person to get there. It may have taken them weeks to complete something that you need to complete in a day.
People improve by putting their imperfections out there and learning from them. If you’re trying to skip the imperfect phase, you’ll only end up disappointed and frustrated with yourself. Believe it or not, the old saying “practice makes perfect” really is true (as preachy as it sounds!).
If our lives were a constant tirade of positivity and rainbows wouldn’t it be great?! Imagine how much we would achieve, and the impact we could have. Sadly though, there is one emotion that holds us back in life. If you haven’t guessed already, it’s fear.
Fear plays a huge role in our everyday lives; the fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of being inadequate, fear of judgement, and fear of success (yes it’s a real thing) just to name a few. In our minds, when a task is uncompleted and we’re not presenting it to the world, we do not need to face that fear.
News flash… in order to move past your fears you need to face them first, and to do so you also need to understand them. What is making you scared? How is this holding you back?
Instead of getting so worked up on the small details, that people wouldn’t even notice anyway we should be showcasing our work loud and proud!
Once you’ve completed the first step of understanding your fears it’s then time to think about how you would deal with them if/when the situation arose.
Let me be clear, when your fears actually come to light in the real word, it is not the end of the world. Sure, it might knock you down a bit, you’re probably going to feel a little deflated and your confidence might take a hit. That doesn’t mean you can’t deal with it and move on positively from it (just remember to breathe and take it one step at a time).
Think about your fears and try to come up with a plan of action for if those fears do happen. For example, you’re a marketing executive and you submit a brand new proposal to your boss with ways to improve the online marketing of the company. Your boss criticizes the plan, as a perfectionist you may take this to heart (think you’ve failed, that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not ___ enough – but STOP this isn’t true), when in reality you should look at it for what it is – constructive criticism (and everyone receives this throughout their career). This will enable you to learn, re-evaluate, improve and come back with an even stronger proposal!
Feel the fear and do it anyway
The best way to kick fear in the butt is by taking action. And although this may seem like the scariest thing to do, it will give you such a strong sense of control. In order to move forwards and get yourself to where you want to be we need to take control, AKA action.
It may not get you to exactly where you need to be straight away, but you will be one big step closer, and that’s better than staying still. Don’t get fooled into the trap of waiting around for when you have the confidence, or when the time feels right, it doesn’t work like that. By taking action you build your confidence and take control of your own destiny.
Stop making excuses
There’s a very fine line between perfection and procrastination, and often we find ourselves getting confused between the two. We have the mindset that doing something to a high standard is a good thing, which it is, but over thinking things and taking too much time isn’t such a good thing.
We talk ourselves into; needing to do more research, we don’t have enough inspiration, I need to take another course on this, the time just isn’t right, I’m not in the mood right now. You get the gist, it’s all excuses to delay the actual matter in hand.
Before you start a task work out what is realistically achievable and work towards that. Scrap your idea of perfection and just focus on creating something great (and that’s good enough!).
Progress, not perfection!
Hopefully, this has helped you to clear your mind of constantly worrying about being perfect, and you can concentrate on taking action to make improvements and learn as you go, instead of always trying to achieve perfection. Taking these small steps will help you on your way to the bigger picture.