This past week, I had 3 presentations/workshops. Instead of waiting until everything was “perfect,” I put it out there. And I didn’t lose sleep over anything. I kept my cool, and didn’t waste energy with anxiety.
I put the work in, prepared, and practiced. Whatever happened would be fuel for the next time. And honestly, the feedback was terrific. But I haven’t always been in this place.
One of my mantras for 2017 is “progress over perfect.” I suppose I have been living this way for a while, but just recently articulated it. I have been using it more with clients, and people have resonated with it, so…I thought that I would share it.
Big goals can motivate us
Holding ourselves to high standards is important. Having lofty goals, and wanting to do well can create eustress: stress that can motivate, and give you that extra “umph” to be better.
I grew up playing classical piano. I was in competitions, and memorization was a challenge for me. One of my earliest competitions, I screwed up. I have no idea what happened, but I suppose I just forgot where I was in my performance. I kept going and almost no one even knew I had made a mistake. This was the beginning of realizing that perfect is hard, and honestly, not necessary. I think I may have even got some gold cup trophy for that performance– mistakes and all.
Unrealistic expectations erode our self-worth
What is that makes us think that we must be perfect? Perfect is not realistic. And if we hold ourselves up to “perfect” with every thing we do, we put unnecessary stress, anxiety, and frustration on ourselves. We feel exhausted and unappreciated.
Perfectionism erodes our self-worth. It gets our inner critic into a cycle of negative self talk. And then things get out of control.
If you struggle to meet deadlines, procrastinate, or trust others, it may be time to look at the standards you hold yourself and others to. They may be too high.
Perfect is theoretical
At one point, I realized that when I got constructive criticism, I pretty much ignored the positive points, and instead only took notes on the negative. Have you ever done this?
Perfect is only theoretical. Focus on the positive: shift your inner voice to focus on what you are doing right. Strive high, but give yourself more realistic targets.
Progress over perfect. I promise…you’ll feel so much better about yourself and your efforts.
- Perfect holds us back.
- Perfect holds us to unattainable standards.
- Perfect makes us unhappy.
Be gentle with yourself. Work hard. Try hard. Visualize greatness. But be realistic.
You are not perfect. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome. That you aren’t special. Or that you aren’t worthy of being loved and appreciated.
It’s taken me a while to learn this, and live this. And wow, life is so much better now.