Last week, I talked about cultivating authenticity, a post inspired by Brene Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. Another of the 10 guideposts is to cultivate compassion by letting go of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a mindset that I see plague a lot of writers… and one I have certainly struggled with myself from time to time.
One of the things that’s tricky about perfectionism is that it’s very easy to rationalize it and frame it in a positive light. When you tell yourself, I just want this project to be perfect for my client, that seems like a really good thing. I mean, who can argue with the desire to deliver a perfect product to a client?
Or putting together a perfect birthday party for a loved one?
Or planning a perfect trip?
Or keeping a perfectly clean house?
These all sound like laudable goals.
But there’s a fine line between doing your best and perfectionism.
The desire to be perfect is usually a type of armor we put on to protect ourselves from criticism. And it may protect you from criticism… but it also protects you from growth. And I hope you want to grow as a writer and a person.
To grow, you must be willing to try things you aren’t good at yet… to receive constructive feedback… to take risks… to make mistakes… to look silly… to act even when you’re uncertain… to find your way forward even when the path seems dark.
Perfectionism doesn’t allow you to do any of these things. And it almost always leads to you being kind of (or really) mean to yourself in your own head.
Letting go of perfectionism will help you grow, and it will encourage to cheer yourself on through mistakes instead of berating yourself for them.
Like so many things that are worthwhile, letting go of perfectionism takes practice. It’s a process.
If perfectionism is something you struggle with, here are three things you can start doing that will help you move past the desire to be perfect.
Start being mindful of the moments when you procrastinate or hold back because of perfectionism. Remember, this takes practice! Often, perfectionism is so second nature, you might not even notice you’re making decisions based on that desire. But once you start taking notice, it will get easier to realize when a desire for perfection is driving you.
Make it a point to try new things. Maybe once a month, take a class in something that is unfamiliar. Really throw yourself into it. In my experience, this is a lot of fun, and it helps demonstrate to yourself that it’s okay to do things you’re not good at yet.
Talk to yourself like a friend, especially when you make mistakes. Imagine that you submitted a blog post to a client and then the next day, you noticed a typo in one of the subheads. Think about how you would normally talk to yourself after this kind of mistake, and then compare it with how you would talk to a friend who had made the same mistake. The two versions are probably pretty different. Work on being kinder to yourself!
When you let go of the need to be perfect, you’ll find you’re able to grow your business — and yourself — at a much faster rate and in a much more satisfying way.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!