Ouch! When “perfect” shoes cramp your style…

Let go of perfect, feel happier and get more done

Good shoes_2_rev1As a recovering good girl, I spent years striving for perfection. I didn’t recognize or admit it at the time. But I embraced the idea that if I worked hard, did everything I “should” do (even when it wasn’t what I really wanted to do) and never let anyone see me sweat, I’d be successful.

My philosophy was to leave nothing to chance. I worked diligently to exceed expectations, make everyone happy and show the world I could do it all (flawlessly, of course!). I’d word-smith a presentation endlessly, triple-check my numbers and procrastinate on sending out an article because it wasn’t just right.  Any of this strike a chord with you?

So how did my desire for excellence and respect morph into a not-so-healthy perfectionism that left me feeling overextended, stressed out and short of time for the people and activities that were most important to me?

I can see now that I was coming from a place of fear. I was a champion catastrophizer, great at imagining the worst case scenario. I’d wonder…

  • What if I make a mistake and the company loses the account?
  • What if my boss gives me a poor review and I don’t get promoted?
  • What if the other moms think I’m a slacker for buying, not baking, the cupcakes? My kids won’t have any play dates!

What a lot of time, effort and angst I put into appearing perfect! I could have been happier, more productive and had more time for family, friends and fun.

Perfectionism can be sneaky. It often masquerades as striving for excellence, maintaining high standards or being best in class. All fine goals, but counterproductive when taken too far.

Here are three strategies that helped me tame my perfection habit and step into my get-it-done (with a lot less stress) shoes:

  • Pay attention to your triggers. What situations, thoughts and people set off your need to please and be perfect? Why? See if you can get to the root reason so you can behave differently next time.
  • Let go of trying to control everything, especially other people. It’s impossible to do, creates frustration for you and resentment for them.
  • Adopt a learning mindset. View feedback not as a judgment that you screwed up or aren’t good enough, but as an opportunity for learning, growth and new possibilities.

Now is the time to step into your “get-it-done” shoes and start creating a life you love!

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