“I know I can’t do it 100%, so I shouldn’t even try.” This is just one of the many lies of perfectionism; it’s time we take a stand and be imperfect.
Are you a closet perfectionist? Whether it’s in our work or home lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the quest for excellence. In fact, it’s a relatively common character trait – around 30% of the general population are perfectionists. For some it’s a positive driver, but for others it can actually be quite damaging…
Perfectionism hides in many forms, such as all-or-nothing-thinking, imposter syndrome (I’m not good enough, how could I possibly do that, who am I to do that, etc.), if you can’t finish or win, don’t try, and many more! Do any of those sound familiar?
The biggest way perfectionism showed up in my life was in my work outs and nutrition. Here are some of them:
If I don’t have a full hour to work out, then it’s not worth it.
Something is always better than nothing.
I know I can’t give up sugar completely, so I’m not even going to try.
Any sugar decrease is good!
If I don’t see the scale go down, I am failing and doing something wrong. I should just quit.
I am feeling better, even if the scale isn’t going down! The scale lies anyway!
I have no willpower. I am not motivated. Something’s wrong with me. I can’t do this; I will just fail anyway.
Willpower is like a muscle and needs to be strengthened. Nothing is wrong with me (or you)! It’s better to keep at it imperfectly than quit perfectly.
I should be able to do this on my own; there’s something wrong with me if I can’t.
Everybody needs a coach or accountability of some sort (even trainers!).
You see, I am a recovering perfectionist. I used to compare myself to everyone else- why does she have it all together and I don’t? The people I saw on TV, Instagram, and in movies seemed to have the complete package, and I wanted it too. But, I was scared that by being anything less than perfect, I was somehow not achieving my potential. I would tear myself down constantly until I realized perfectionism is a sneaky bully!!
It’s still a daily challenge to be real with myself and not expect perfection, so don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t come easy at first! The first step I needed to take to overcome my perfectionistic tendencies was to realize letting go of perfection didn’t make me “not good enough” or a failure or a quitter…or whatever lie I told myself. It meant freedom. I can look at photos of incredibly fit people and not compare myself. I can see photos of family’s traveling the world and not ask why can’t I do that? I see straight through those perfectly curated Instagram feeds that used to inspire me because I know those people are human too; they have bad days just like me.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to strive for excellence. The problem comes when it impacts our perception of ourselves negatively. I encourage everyone (including myself) to aim high, as long as they aren’t using that aim or goal to tear themselves down. Getting into that self-comparison, self-bullying state is just not worth it; it can even snowball into depression and anxiety.
Are you with me in ditching the lies of perfectionism?
Yess!! So how about instead of chasing the tail of perfectionism, we strive for improvement?
Focusing on just being better opens up the possibilities of what ‘success’ can look like. Perfectionism categorizes anything less than 100% as a failure. However, the continuous improvement approach says any kind of progress, even just 1%, is a success. Much friendlier, right? It can also motivate us to take real action.
So often we’re held back by the idea that we have to be perfect; we’re paralyzed by fear and end up not doing something that’d be good for us, like going for a run or trying out a new class. But I have news for you:
imperfect action is better than no action
And everyone was a beginner at some point, so you might as well take imperfect action!
I guarantee that by embracing improvement instead of perfection, you’ll notice results WAY sooner! When we take that pressure off yourself, the journey becomes fun and rewarding and the joy of learning a new skill or mastering a technique can motivate us to keep trying. Instead of defining our goals in black or white, as success or failure, we can view them as improvement in the gray.