Slaying the Dragon of Perfection with the Sword of “Good Enough”: 3 Steps to Push Yourself Beyond Immobile Ideation into Action and Progress
As a woman in business, having high standards is arguably a very good thing. High standards can help solidify your position as a bad boss business woman. But if those high standards go from helping the quality of your work to hindering your overall production, then we have a problem.
“Perfectionism is a mountain that has no peak.” -Emily Norris
As a woman in business, having high standards is arguably a very good thing. You are building your career, doing lots of work, and making relationships left and right. High standards can help solidify your position as a bad boss business woman. But if those high standards go from helping the quality of your work to hindering your overall production, then we have a problem.
Perfectionism is a personality disposition characterized by having excessively high objectives, being overly critical of your behavior, and/or refusing to accept any standard short of perfection.
In action, this may look like:
- Being reluctant/unwilling to start new projects or procrastination on existing projects
- Seeing setbacks or critical feedback as a failure vs a growth-focused life lesson
- Self-defeating thought patterns that leads to stress, unhappiness, low self-esteem and over time, mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or panic attacks
Sadly, this also means that you could be missing out on moments of opportunity or joy. Did you not volunteer for that stretch project at work because you didn’t think you could do it well enough? Are you not in photos because you didn't feel good enough to be in front of the camera? Perfectionism is the voice of the little red devil on your shoulder, urging you to step back when stepping in is likely the right thing.
And what is perfection anyway? When do people ever really declare that something “is perfect”? When a baby is born: “Congratulations, he’s perfect!” I have two children and I assure you, they are not perfect. What’s perfect to the introvert certainly isn’t to the extrovert. When someone’s haircut is deemed perfect I bet you $10 that the next girl down doesn’t agree. So we come to see that perfection is actually a lofty idea with no root in reality. Better said, it’s a vague notion based on a sliding scale of subjectivity.
THE ARGUMENT FOR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
So today I’m here to make the argument for imperfection because nothing in life is perfect. Human beings are definitely not perfect. Trying to hold up that facade is exhausting and reduces the option for true human connection. Imperfections are woven into the fabric of this messy and beautiful life that we lead. Pretend you don’t have any and you isolate yourself from others who know full well that they do.
So we recognize that perfectionism is a common struggle and can become crippling. How then, do we move past this? Here are three steps to take toward moving from “it has to be perfect” and instead, shooting for the goal of “it has to get done”.
STEP 1: GET YOUR MIND RIGHT
- Self-awareness and self-love: Becoming more self-aware is the first step and practicing self-love is the path forward. If you have been stuck in overwhelm, try intentionally giving it up - meditate on releasing the burden of control. Allow. And throw yourself a healthy dose of kindness along the way.
- Set an intention: If you need to loop in another resource here, get it! Talk it out with a friend, journal your feelings, or simply set the intention that from here on in you are REFUSING to allow this project to take any longer than it needs to.
STEP 2: CRAFT + EXECUTE A PLAN
- State the goal, identify specifics: Time to make a plan! Write out the final end-state goal, then break up it down into smaller steps. Identify the final deadline date and set mini due dates to keep you marching forward. Put these dates on your calendar and stick to them.
- Go step-by-step: Based on your deadlines, diligently work through each step, intentionally doing your best on each smaller task. If/when you get to a point where you feel like things are a mess, remind yourself that this is perfectly normal. JUST KEEP GOING. Eventually, with enough attention “This is such a mess!” begins to morph into “This is starting to come together.” and oooh, girl! Does that feel good.
STEP 3: STAY IN REALITY
- Practice real-world balance: I’m fairly certain that some degree of balance does exist and is achievable for working women. When you are on a big work push, though, that can be tough. Let go of the things that are deemed unimportant during that time frame. Mountain of laundry to do? F that. Eating out too much? After you complete this work you’ll get back to the kitchen. Give yourself permission to mark how “balanced” you are in longer timeframes and see if that affords you some mental relief.
- Practice self-care: Mental clarity often comes when you’ve stepped back from the work. Give it a rest, go do something for YOU, and come back to it with a clear and objective mindset.
- Submit and celebrate. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is actually submit the work. So muster up your courage and press send. When that's been done it is critical that you honor the completion of the project. Go celebrate your hard work because YOU FREAKIN DID IT, sister.
In summary: Life is tough, and you, as a business woman, have some especially big mountains to climb. So give yourself a break but don’t shy away from the challenges. I speak wholly from experience when I say that life rewards those who take personal and professional risks, so be the one who steps IN when others are leaning back.
Casting off those heavy chains of unachievable perfection will allow you to stand in your power and authentically rise to the challenges, seize new opportunities, and put yourself out there. The things you do from here will not be perfect but they will be good enough and they will keep you moving forward. In my imperfect opinion, that is better than being perfect - every time.