“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.”– Salvador Dali
Perfectionism is a sneaky beast. It hides and sometimes we don’t see it. It can takes over our thoughts and make us want to do everything perfectly or not at all.
In this article, we’re going to talk about conquering this beast a little at a time. Because that’s the best way to vanquish something that’s been hiding in your shadow for too many years to count.
Unlike most beasts, it resists fatal blows. But it doesn’t usually notice tiny blows. That’s the secret for defeating it! We’re going to trick the beast and get our life back.
Below is the podcast version of this post! It has a ton of examples and lots more explanation. Podcasts are the best, aren’t they? Enjoy!
If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, go to the podcast app you use and type “Balanced Working Moms” into the search.
I have a free printable for you with lots of affirmations to help you on your journey to conquer perfectionism. If you need the password, click here.
Letting Go Of Perfection
In the last episode, we talked all about perfectionism. If you haven’t already heard the podcast episode or read the blog post, I highly recommend you go back and listen.
We explained what perfectionsm is and why it can be so damaging.
Letting go of perfectionism can be life changing. It can bring your joy back. It can let you actually get things done. It can help you let go of a burden you’ve been carrying that you didn’t even know you were carrying.
How do I know all this?
I speak from experience. I wish I could tell you I was reformed perfectionistm, but that wouldn’t be the truth.
The beast I mentioned in the introduction is always with me. But she’s smaller now. She doesn’t speak up as much. She stays quiet a lot. But for me, she’s always still there.
The quieter she gets, the more joy I have. I can get more things done because I’m not paralyzed by indecision. I feel happier and less anxious.
When she goes quiet, It makes me feel more balanced!!
Let’s Call Out Perfectionism
In the last episode, we explained what perfectionism truly is, which is fear, hiding out and pretending not to be there. It’s buried so deep that often many perfectionists don’t see it. But it’s the underlying emotion behind perfectionism and it’s what makes it so powerful and disruptive.
In this article, I’m calling perfectionism a beast.
You probably think I’m doing it to make this episode more memorable for you, but I have another reason for calling it a Beast.
When you name things and notice them, they start to lose their power over you.
I’m purposely calling perfectionism a beast because I want to separate her from you. You are not a scared person who lives in a perfectionist bubble.
NO! You are POWERFUL and this beast is just along for the ride, trying to protect you and keep you safe. She doesn’t mean to harm you, she wants you to do your very best so you never get embarrassed. So you always make the “right decision.”
She wants the best for you. But she uses FEAR.
And fear is powerful, but it’s not a healthy emotion for your motivation.
Chances are, when you do things perfectly out of fear, they may not go so well for you.
I think of all the things I created perfectly with fear as a driver, and although those things were perfect, I never enjoyed them.
So how do we deal with this beast?
We trick it!
How to Trick the Beast
As mentioned, I’ve been dealing with this for a while and I’ve tried many things. The first thing I’m going to share with you is my favorite tool and what’s worked the best for me.
I’ve found that tricking the beast is the most powerful and effective way to let go of perfectionism.
Here’s how I trick it.
It’s so simple. Don’t let the simplicity fool you.
But I tell myself that instead of being a 10 at something, I’m going to be a 9.
I’ll give you an example so you understand what I mean.
When I’m writing a paper for school, as I sit to write I tell myself that I’m shooting for a 9 quality, not a 10. I keep reminding myself of this over and over again.
As I write, I write well, but that FEAR of being perfect seems to disintegrate.
I can focus on doing a good job, saying what I want to say in the paper, but that underlying fear goes away for me.
The reason why this works for me is because a 9 is very high. I’m not telling myself to be a 3. That would never work.
YOu have to trick the beast, not vanquish it.
If i told myself I wanted to be a 3, that beast would fight me with everything she’s got.
But a 9?
That’s really hight. But not so high that you feel as much fear.
And if you’re a perfectionist, your 9 is still a lot better than most would ever do. A hundred times better.
So the beast is satisfied since you’re still doing a great job. Better than most.
But if you’re a true perfectionist like me, the difference between a 9 and a 10 is hours of grueling work, stress, tension.
It’s a Game
I think this technique also works because it feels to me like it’s a game.
I’m turning in a school paper that I only put a 9 out of 10 effort, but I still get an A?!
It feels so satisying, words cannot express.
When you feel that you’re playing a game, it removes the fear, doesn’t it?
Another Benefit to This Method
When I tell myself in advance that I want it to be a 9 something, such as decorating my office or parenting, I find the results are a 12.
Ironically, taking away that fear and that need to be perfect makes me even better at whatever I’m trying to do.
It’s so ironic.
But it also shows the problem with perfectionism. When we TRY to be perfect, that’s when it most alludes us.
It’s because we can’t make our best decisions or do our best work out of FEAR.
The results won’t satisfy us the same way as when we have FUN and go in with an attitude of “I’ll just do my best.”
Another Way to Overcome Perfectionism
Another way to overcome perfectionism is to be proud of yourself for your effort.
A few months ago I had to do the thing that perfectionists fear the most.
I had to choose paint colors! Yeah. doesn’t get worse than that for a perfectionist.
I had to choose 3 whole colors! Shutters, a door, and the exterior color. That’s a lot. 3!! YIKES!!
I really had to get this done. Winter was coming and the paint was literally peeling. I knew if I waited on this then I wouldn’t be able to paint for at least 6 months and in that time, severe damage could happen to the unprotected wood.
So I set an intention that I wouldn’t drive myself crazy.
After the paint went up, I go that pit in my stomach that perfectionists know well.
I’d made the wrong decision. The paint color wasn’t perfect.
However, I went back to my intention. Every time I came home, I said out loud “I am so proud of myself for making a decision and getting this house painted!”
I did this for a few weeks.
Until one day, I came home and just felt proud. I didn’t need to say it loud again.
Now, true, when I see the paint color I’m not thrilled. But I feel more proud of myself then about the silly paint color.
And that’s the feeling I’m left with. Not imperfection. But the pride of doing something, despite it being imperfect.
Vanquishing the Beast
Letting go of perfectionism is a process and may take years. That’s okay.
But being proud of yourself for being imperfect and still moving forward, I believe that is the secret to eventually vanquishing the Beast for good.
I wish you so much success, but not perfect success, on your journey.