Perfection vs. Showing Up
Perfection can be great but showing up is even better. Today, I'll begin to dabble into why that is.
There comes a moment every week when I find myself procrastinating or feeling crippled from the expectations I set for myself. Achieving perfection is something I strive for. Now this may sound like a good thing but it can actually become a little difficult to deal with when deadlines are in the mix. Instead of doing, I feel unable to begin or unable to continue because my work is not perfect or does not meet my usual standards. However, when this happens, I find myself making simple excuses such as "I am not ready" or "I'll redo it some other time." Much of this happens when time comes to submit applications or make important phone calls.
I came across a post-it note my friend Jordan posted and it really resonated with my current predicament:
The sneakiest obstacle to meeting your goals is not laziness, but perfectionism. We're our own worst critics, and if it looks like we're not going to do something right, we prefer not to do it at all. That's why we're most likely to quit on day two, "the day after perfect"-- when our results almost always underperform our aspirations.
This is the most accurate depiction of my progress week after week. Instead of buckling down and completing certain tasks, I save them for later. For when I am able to "do it right" or achieve perfection. If I keep this up, I wouldn't get much accomplished. Which is why I decided to tackle the problem head on.
My current exploration delves into what exactly is perfection and how can I stay consistent without bashing myself or over analyzing every detail. As a perfectionist, I am my own worst enemy and my inner voice LOVES to play devil's advocate. Recently, I was facing some difficulty submitting some applications for jobs and internships because of this inherent need to be perfect. That's when my significant other pointed out that I need to be more confident in my abilities and that by aiming for perfection, I end up holding myself back from more opportunities. He encouraged me to prepare and go in confident with what I have. Certainly, if I keep editing and fixing everything unnecessarily, I will never get to the end goal. More importantly, each phone call and submission is a stepping stone to achieving "perfection" which can be elusive at times. The fact of the matter is nothing one ever does will be 100% perfect and that is more than okay.
One great find along the way is episode 826 from Optimal Living Daily. "I Want to Punch Perfection in the Face" by Courtney Carver really hit home in this episode. I highly recommend listening to this episode if you suffer from the paralysis of perfection. Some great tidbits from this podcast that stood out to me include:
"Perfectionism and launching run in opposite directions. You can't have both and I want one more than another." - Paul Jarvis
"I remind myself: 1% of anything, is better than 100% of nothing – you have to put something out there before you can get any return on it. If you’re waiting for perfection, then the very desire to do the best you can is preventing you from getting any results at all." - Rob Young
That's where showing up comes into play. I think it is really important to show up and be accountable even if it isn't perfect in my eyes. I am trying to get better at this. Rome wasn't build in a day and neither are my projects or my growth. If something isn't perfect today, at least I completed it. It's practice. One victory along a road paved with many opportunities for improvement and growth.
Instead of sitting and waiting for the day I suddenly am ready or "perfect." I've decided to face things head on and become more accountable for my deadlines and projects. Instead of letting the fear of failure or mediocrity get to me, I am building up my self-confidence and silencing the negative voice in my head. To me, things may not be where I want them to be. For others, things could be great and more than enough. I need to keep reminding myself that I am enough and I am competent in my work even if "imposter syndrome" loves to rear its ugly head.
For those who are unfamiliar with imposter syndrome: It's a phenomenon that "reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful." As a perfectionist, this article sums it up perfectly. It's time to realize that I am not inexperienced but merely in the process of gaining experience. There are numerous times where I need to give myself more credit and own my achievements with pride.
Worst Critic or Best Friend?
The days of being my own worst critic will hopefully soon be behind me. Instead, I aim to be my best friend. To encourage myself to grow and keep moving forward with every success and failure along the way. Sometimes in order to be consistent, there needs to be a realization that not everything will be perfect and that's okay. The imperfections can sometimes create more authenticity and vulnerability which are equally as important.
With showing up comes a balance. As humans, we are flawed and that's what makes us beautiful. After all, can success exist if there was no failure. Every moment is a learning experience and I am ready to get back up and try again.
If you have been struggling with perfectionism, I hope that this begins a conversation in which you are able to get over the self-inflicted hurdles before you. That's when you can really begin to achieve your goals one step at a time.