Description: Too often we allow feelings of perfectionism to stunt our progress. Find out if you’re a perfectionist, learn why, and see how it’s holding you back. Next step: complete the Push through Perfectionism Activity to understand that you win the majority of the time – even when you feel far from perfect!
MM556 – Bail on Perfectionism
Hello, everybody, and welcome to this week’s episode of Motivate Me!
It’s Me! Time here on Motivate Me! and we are working on coming back from flat.
Before we start, let’s get into the right headspace. Let’s engage in the idea that this is time where YOU are the priority. Let’s take two slow, deep breaths to get us centered. Just follow me.
Today’s focus is: Bail on Perfectionism
Too often we allow the idea of perfectionism to hold us back. We let it stop us from attempting something new, and we let it stop us from creating.
Let me give you some examples. For starters, I never saw myself as a perfectionist but my husband and daughter started pointing out some of the ways I do things differently than them. For example, the way I cut vegetables! My husband used to be a line cook for Perkins, so breakfast at our house can be pretty spectacular. Since I’m his prep cook, I start cutting the vegetables for our omelets and home fries before he gets to the kitchen.
I, basically, got kicked out of the kitchen because I take “too much time” cutting the peppers, onions, and mushrooms because I try to make them all the same size. Isn’t that what you need to do so they cook evenly? My husband comes barreling into the kitchen and he cuts everything in the same haphazard way he folds his laundry or makes a ham sandwich. That’s something I can never understand: throwing all the ham into the middle of the bread in one big lump. You can bet that my ham is dispersed evenly throughout the whole sandwich. I will tell you something, though, his tastes better!
My daughter is similar to my husband, she’ll approach a project and boom! it’s done. And I’m on the other side of the room not having even started yet because I’m feeling anxious about it not coming out right. Of not having exactly what I need to do the job.
I, literally, write with mechanical pencils because I don’t like seeing things crossed out on my paper. Even though I’m only writing notes or journaling. Pen is a big commitment, you know what I mean?
But here’s the thing: If we don’t act on an idea in the first five minutes from the creation of it, chances are we never will. And in order to act this quickly, we have to get past our feelings of perfectionism.
When I finished my undergraduate degree in English and Education, even after all of my student-teaching experiences, I didn’t feel ready to be in the classroom. I didn’t feel educated enough. I felt imposter syndrome, I felt like maybe if I had a master’s degree I would be better prepared.
My husband’s like, “What do you need a master’s for, you just got your teaching degree, that’s what it’s for?”
I said, “I don’t know, I don’t feel ready!”
Our perfectionism is driven by fear. Fear that we won’t be smart enough, talented enough, attractive enough, perfect enough. We have to determine a jumping off point. We have to decide to take that leap of faith. We have to accept the fact that we will be nervous, that we may feel like a fake or a fraud, and that once we do get started, we may need to pivot or edit. But if we don’t act at all because we are too scared of not being good enough, or because we never feel ready, we stay stagnant and risk becoming bitter and resentful.
I really had to push past these feelings when I got the idea to travel the fifty states in ninety days interviewing people about their passion.
I did act in the first five minutes by sending a message to someone I knew to see if she’d be interested in accompanying me on a trip like this as my assistant. But here I was a new podcaster and new professional coach, I had just resigned from teaching to work on this career, and I was talking about taking this huge, very expensive, very timely, very complex step.
So much could go wrong. And the timeline only allotted me so much time to prepare – but honestly, would I ever REALLY feel prepared for a trip like this one? I go into detail about how I acquired a crew and planned the trip in Episode 533, if you’re interested in that, but important to note here is that I had A LOT to push through to go through with this trip. Like all the things I just mentioned and the fact that I was a 48-year-old chunky mother figure who just decided to hit the road and interview people in each of the fifty states. I needed to buy equipment, I needed a new van, I needed to learn how to run body mics and record, and edit the show from the road.
There was a huge learning curve in a lot of areas and many points of exit where I would have been justified in cancelling this trip because I felt ill-prepared.
But I pushed through and I know you can too!
Here’s what I’d like you to do: I’d like you to make a list for yourself of all the things you’ve done in life where when you started you were panicked. I want you to list them all, and when you do this, envision yourself at the start. Reconnect with the feelings you had at the start. Make your whole list!
When you’re done, I want you to go back to the list, start at the top again. Look at what you have written there, envision how you felt at the end of that moment in time, and write a number. I want you to write a number on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) that represents how confident you felt when this moment in time came to an end.
Now listen, I am not saying you won’t have a thing or two on your list that you think you could have been better off not doing, and I’m not saying you won’t look at something on your list and wish you did it differently. But I think you will overwhelmingly see that much of what you pushed yourself to do is what’s shaped you as a person and moved you forward in your life.
So do this for your entire list.
Walking into teaching, I would have given myself a four on this list, but when I left, I would give myself a nine. Walking into my Fifty States in Ninety Days trip, I would have also given myself a four on this list, and after completing it, I would have also given myself a nine. I’m seeing a trend here. For me, I am tough on myself and the fours are because I feel I have so much to learn, but they are no lower than that because I know my intentions are true and I have a want to be all-in. On the way out, I feel confident and capable but know there are always things I could have done better. Always people I could have treated better. And maybe this is my perfectionism creeping in, but I am good with nines, I am proud of my nines.
This list you just made would be really great to share with a friend who thinks that you are braver than them, that you always have it together and are never fearful. Or maybe there’s a child in your life who would benefit from seeing how human you are; that you have had to push past fears in your life, too, but that you emerged on the other side glad you did.
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I am going to leave you with some truth talk from me to you: The truth is that if we allow perfectionism to keep us grounded, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. And yes, we may try something new and feel like we failed. Or when we look back, we may see all that we should have done differently. But we will have walked away stronger, smarter, more interesting, and more knowledgeable than we would have ever been. And most importantly, we will never have to wonder what if… Remember, you Motivate Me!