Are you a perfectionist? So many people want to achieve big goals or make big changes in their lives. They have every intention of truly living their life by design, but there’s one big thing standing in their way: PERFECTIONISM. Perfectionism causes paralysis. I’m not talking about physical paralysis. I’m talking about growth paralysis…paralysis of a person’s potential. This means an inability to jump – to actually take action on something – simply because of a fear that it won’t be perfect or the conditions aren’t ideal. Does this strike a cord with you? Many of us Type-A personalities are perfectionists. But perfectionism is often just a disguise for fear of rejection, failure or judgment. Today, I want to share with you a cure for paralysis caused by your own perfectionism, so you can fearlessly go after whatever it is you truly want in life!
What is Perfectionism?
Before we can cure this paralysis, we must first understand what perfectionism really is and how it hinders us in reaching our full potential.
- When nothing is ever good enough or as good as you think it should be or could be.
- A fear of making mistakes or that people will judge you. You question your ability, your expertise, your effort, or your qualifications.
- A feeling that everything must be perfect…yet it feels like nothing ever is.
- A belief that what you’ve done is never truly your best.
- Demanding perfection in others and becoming intolerant of others’ mistakes or the way they get things done.
You see, there’s a difference between perfectionists who suffer from paralysis and perfectionists who have SMART Success: Unrealistic Standards.
A person who has achieved SMART Success can actually enjoy the process of chasing goals as much as or more than actually reaching the goal itself. Perfectionists, on the other hand, see the goal as complete or else it is considered a failure. They’re unable to enjoy the growth process.
A perfectionist is depressed by unmet goals and is always far more concerned with what others think and the little voice in their head than they are with their own success. They rarely see their own progress and growth.
However, a person who has achieved SMART Success is someone who has learned that they have the ability to bounce back from disappointment – that each failure gives you an advantage and an opportunity for growth. Conversely, perfectionists beat themselves up and waste a ton of time thinking negative thoughts about what they should be doing.
Are YOU a Perfectionist?
With that said, I want to ask you a series of questions about your own behaviors and thought processes. Take a moment to answer each of the questions below with one of the following: Always, Sometimes, Rarely, or Never.
- I wait until conditions are perfect before I begin.
- I am hyper critical of my mistakes and notice other people’s mistakes, too.
- I aim to be the best at everything I do, even if it’s not really that important to me.
- I spend ridiculous amounts of time perfecting things so much that I sacrifice my own wellbeing because it’s still not perfect.
- I don’t see something as being a success unless it’s perfect.
- It is difficult to accept compliments, because if I didn’t hit the mark I set in my own mind, I see it as a failure.
- I dwell on the outcome of things if they aren’t to my standards, even if there’s nothing I can do to change it.
- All criticism feels very personal.
- If I get 50 compliments, but there are 2 things I could have done better, I only hear the negative.
- I fear failure because failing means I am imperfect, and everyone will know it. This makes me vulnerable.
- I only have perfection as my ultimate goal in mind. It doesn’t matter what I’ve gained in the process.
- I have an all or nothing approach.
- I consciously avoid any situation which might give others the perception that I’m not perfect.
- Nothing is really ever good enough. It could be or should be better.
- I fear making mistakes because I assume people will judge me, question my ability, intelligence or expertise, or know that I don’t deserve it.
- My biggest fear about making mistakes is what others will think.
- It never feels like what I’ve done is truly to my fullest potential.
If you can relate to any of these statements, then your perfectionism might be holding you back from setting big goals and reaching your true potential. But there is a silver lining to all of this! You can overcome this paralysis simply by changing your habits of thought!
The Cure for Paralysis
The most successful people are those who make lots of mistakes consistently. One of the richest men in the world, Richard Branson, has had a huge number of business successes…but this is only because he also had a huge number of flops and companies that lost millions. Richard achieved his success because he lacked a fear of making mistakes. You too can overcome your paralysis and fear of failure by changing your habits of thought. Here’s how…
What is the cost of you NOT trying? What is the benefit of you trying and failing? These are things you must ask yourself. On top of this, make a list of all the ways being a perfectionist is hurting you and the people around you. Write it down. Seeing it in writing will motivate you to lose some of these tendencies.
#2: Focus on the positive.
When you feel the natural tendency to focus on what you did wrong, stop yourself and find 5 things that you did right. If you find something that you don’t like about yourself or your work, and you counter that with 5 positive qualities you do like, you will balance your critical focus. Eventually, this type of thinking will become more natural.
Look at the bigger picture. If you truly want to experience success – SMART Success where you can actually enjoy the process of growth and really enjoy LIFE – then you must overcome your perfectionism and overcome the paralysis it’s causing you. Take it from a straight from a recovered perfectionist. I’ve been richly rewarded because I’ve set aside my own perfectionism and focused on the bigger picture. The most amazing things happen when you stop worrying so much, and you take risks! The conditions will never be perfect, and you will rarely get things perfect on your first try…but so what?! You will miss out on so much more by simply failing to start. So, START!