Perfectionism is like a massive boulder between you and your dreams. You can either let it dominate you or you can be like Fred and Barny and chip away at it to overpower your demons. Learn how to chip away at the boulder blocking your path to success
As I discussed in my previous article What is stopping you from moving forward in your business? Procrastination in it’s many forms is a contributing factor in our not getting the success we desire.
We all have tasks that ought and should be carried out and are deemed tough, boring or painful. Putting them off until later, when we have more time or are “in the mood” only delays the inevitable and cause us a lot of stress. We have put them off, but the task is still outstanding, so they hang over us.
Typically, our focus is on the pain of the doing rather than how good it would feel when we have completed the task. If we can think more about the benefits of completing the task we would be more motivated to getting it done.
Another thing a procrastinator doesn’t do is to schedule a specific date and time when the task is to be completed. “When I have time” and “later” is quite meaningless with no clear goal. It’s rather like getting in your car with no clear destination in mind. Sometimes the goal is unrealistic, and a person can get overwhelmed and give up.
If we do feel overwhelmed by the task it can be helpful if we can break the task down into smaller manageable chunks – what we can do now, later and in the future defining a date for each goal to be accomplished.
These strategies are usually achievable for a person to make the necessary changes to move forward.
Perfectionism which is linked to poor self-esteem and fears of not being good enough are a bit harder to overcome.
There are many costs of perfectionism – loss – of enjoyment of the present moment – of connection with self – and our relationships with others. Perfectionists continually beat themselves up because the goals they set themselves are self-defeating. They are so afraid of taking risks and thus failing that they don’t fulfil their potential and set themselves up for failure.
Therapists advocate self-compassion – for the perfectionist to start being kind to themselves. They find this difficult because of their belief that they are not worthy. When they can start to practice self-compassion, they can turn understanding, acceptance and love inward.
In my many years of practice I help clients to start refraining from harsh criticism of themselves and to start recognizing their own humanity – that we all make mistakes. It is a gradual journey of reframing the messages they received in childhood and healing the past. Recognizing that when negative messages about mistakes came from our Carers, they too were often a victim of the same messages in their childhood.
What comes out of self-compassion is self-acceptance even in the face of failure and when we can give ourselves permission to make mistakes can we take risks, learn and grow. Success is very rarely easily attained – in most cases it arises out of many results that we didn’t want to achieve (some people call these mistakes) but they all are a potential for learning. It’s called failing forward.
It is not always necessary to enter therapy to beat perfectionism – self-compassion is achieved with small steps of daily deliberate action. Daily journaling is a good start to begin taking the time to be with yourself by yourself and for yourself. Listing all your wins and gifts. Thinking about how far you have grown and some doable steps to move forward. Stretching just beyond your comfort zone will give you a sense of achievement and success which improves confidence and self-esteem.
For many years I have practiced and taught mindfulness. Consistent practice promotes:-
The development of stability
Inner calmness and
Non-reactivity of the mind.
This allows us to face and embrace even the unpleasant or painful aspects of daily life. By developing a simple and pure awareness, we learn to disentangle ourselves from our habitual thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
Read about the dangerous effects of perfectionism