“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
Why do we choose certain actions over others? Different paths will lead to diverse results. So, we will pick the one that put us in a situation that we subjectively consider as better. What if we fail? That thought might stop us from acting, a sign that we need to overcome perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the constant effort to meet flawlessness and perfection. It reveals a fear of failure, of making mistakes, and of experiencing rejection for not being enough. Perfectionists often are harsh with themselves and are worried about what people think about them.
What does being perfect mean anyway? Do we have to be perfect? According to the dictionary, perfect is about “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type”.
Who set this ‘ideal type’? The perfectionist. Setting high standards is fine. The issue arises when those standards are so high it’s hard to achieve them or their completion comes with great difficulty.
Then, instead of struggling for perfection, we are better off striving for excellence.
The difference between excellence and perfectionism
When we switch our minds from perfectionism to excellence, we stop worrying about the result of our goal. It is not like we have given up on being in a better situation. Rather, our focus changes from results to being present.
Excellence synergizes pretty well with living now and connecting with our inner self. In contrast, perfectionism sets our minds into the future. Also, while perfectionism is driven by the outside, excellence is fueled by the inside.
Since excellence is about transcending and self-actualizing who you are, it goes well with personal development and personal growth. Someone striving for excellence will embrace their mistakes and failures, learn from them and try again.
Where does their motivation come from? They see themselves as a whole, as good enough. For them, mistakes are opportunities to learn, and failing is a chance to try something different to meet their standards.
How to overcome perfectionism?
We have to shift our minds from the way we see things to a gift mindset. When we connect with our inner gifts and talents, we can claim them and use them to uncover our purpose in life.
As we connect with our inner self, perfectionism stops having a toll on us because we realize this world isn’t about being perfect as an outer standard. It is, instead, about being ourselves, learning who we are, and connecting deep within.
When the outer standard lessens, there is a relaxed state and openness for expressing who we are, avoiding this constant experience of blocking. The fear disappears enabling us to keep striving for excellence toward our purpose in life.
What about the inner voices telling us we are not enough? The gift mindset helps us see ourselves as complete. Also, doing our best, and being excellent, will help us answer back that inner voice.
In his book The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz affirms that doing our best is great to avoid self-judgment and regret. Think about it. If you make a mistake or fail, but you gave all you could, the inner critic can’t blame you for the result.
Additional tips to overcome perfectionism
Apart from going through the process of changing our minds from a perfectionist way of thinking to a gift mindset, we can do the following:
- Identify perfectionism:
For a solution to exist, we need to pinpoint a problem. To do that, we can ask ourselves these questions:
– Am I unkind to myself when I make a mistake?
– Do I feel frustrated for not meeting my standards?
– Is it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, or trust others?
- Expand perspective:
When we see the big picture, we can assess our actions in the context in which we operate. For example, someone giving a speech might forget to mention something and yet the whole speech goes well.
Should they punish themselves for not being perfect? No, people liked the speech, and the message was shared. The speech was not perfect, but it was excellent. We just have to be our better selves.
- Reward ourselves:
Facing our fears requires courage and hard work. Recognizing the effort we put in is very important. We can do this by rewarding ourselves with small prizes such as having a nice meal, hanging out with friends, or doing some relaxing activity.
Even though perfectionism looks like a good trait to have, in reality, it is a vice that can prevent us from acting and getting the results we are supposed to get. A gift mindset will help us shift from perfectionism to excellence.
Connecting with our inner self opens up many opportunities for us. It’s useful to identify our purpose in life and use that knowledge for:
- Personal growth
- Building a personal brand
- Embarking on an entrepreneurship journey, or
- Strengthening relationships within the company and with clients.
If you think perfectionism is getting in your way and need help with changing your mindset, we can have a complimentary call to uncover a strategy that helps you shine with excellence.