How To Overcome Perfectionism Once And For All

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5 Ways Perfectionism Is Keeping You Small (And How To Overcome It Once And For All)

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August 16, 2021

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Hi there! I'm Giorgia, a life purpose and business coach. I help you find your calling and turn it into a business, so you can make the impact you were born to make.

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It’s a weird combination, being a perfectionist and a multi-passionate at the same time.

Your multi-passionate nature craves variety and the thrill of always learning and mastering new things – which means you’re gonna suck at them at first. 

But your perfectionist tendencies demand excellence on the first try. If you can’t do that, is there even a point in doing it at all?

When you try something new and you suck at it, your ego takes a beating. It makes you feel dumb. Flawed. Humiliated. Much safer to stick to what you know and excel there.

But, for a multi-passionate, that stagnation is death. Your need for perfectionism is keeping you small, bored, and trapped in a business and life you don’t enjoy anymore.

If you want to pursue new projects and adventures, you need to overcome perfectionism and be willing to suck… just a little.

What Perfectionism Is NOT

You may think perfectionism isn’t such a bad thing, after all. I beg to differ. Let me start by debunking the common myths that make perfectionism sexy:

  1. Perfectionism is not a personality trait: This isn’t something that you are, like introvert or extrovert. You don’t become less when you ditch perfectionism. You just become more of who you really are.
  2. Perfectionism isn’t the key to success: This isn’t a superpower that can help you achieve your goals. It’s kryptonite that holds you back from the work you’re meant to do in the world.
  3. Perfectionism isn’t excellence: Excellence is about being the best person YOU can be and doing the best work YOU can do. Perfectionism is about conforming to unattainable standards decided by… whom?

Related: The Real Secret To Success (No One Ever Tells You About)

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What Perfectionism Really Is

Perfectionism is fear in a fancy dress.

You’re scared of how people will perceive the real you. What will they think of you? Will they like you? Will they accept you?

Instead of risking rejection, you put your fancy dress on. Surely people will love that?

Putting that dress on makes you feel in control. If you look perfect, are perfect, and have the perfect life, then no one can criticise you, reject you, or hurt you.

But… if often doesn’t work. You – or the fake you you’re showing the world – still gets criticised, rejected, hurt.

Because, no matter how much you try, you can only control your actions, NOT other people’s perceptions of you.

Related: How To Overcome The Fear Of Rejection Once And For All

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5 Ways Perfectionism Is Keeping You Small

Perfectionism is the frenemy that promises to help you reach your goals while sabotaging you behind your back. 

Here are all the ways perfectionism is keeping you small:

1. Perfectionism Keeps You Stuck

Multi-passionates need variety. They crave to learn new things, master new skills, start new businesses…

But perfectionism pulls the brake. If you can’t do something perfectly, better not even try. You’ll only make a fool of yourself.

But making mistakes, failing in your early attempts, getting a few things wrong are part of the learning experience. You can’t master anything if you’re not willing to suck at it at first.

And so, you stifle your multi-passionate nature. Even though there are at least a dozen things you’d like to do right now, you do nothing. 

Instead, you stay stuck where you are, doing the same boring thing over and over and over again. At least you’re good at it, right?

This is the worst place to be in life. It’s comfortable and cozy. Just boring as hell. If you stay there, the rest of your life is gonna be more of the same. 

Can you handle that?

Related: The Dangers Of Tolerating An OK Life

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2. Perfectionism Hurts Your Self-Esteem

Perfection is unattainable. I know it. You know it. We all know it.

But you still strive for it. Deep down, there’s a part of you who believes that looking like Gigi Hadid, creating high-quality videos like Marie Forleo, or have an apartment as clean as Monica Geller’s is possible – aren’t they doing it, after all?

Problem is… you never quite reach those standards. And so, you beat yourself up for it and feel like a failure – while completely ignoring all the good qualities you have and things you have accomplished.

It’s recognising your qualities and accomplishments, not pursuing the unattainable, that builds confidence. The more you try to be perfect, the less confident, capable, and worthy you’ll feel. 

Related: How To Build The Confidence To Start And Grow Your Business

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3. Perfectionist Hinders Decision Making

“Successful people make decisions quickly and firmly. Unsuccessful people make decisions slowly, and they change them often.” – Napoleon Hill

Perfectionism puts you squarely in the unsuccessful camp. It makes you believe you can’t move forward until you make the perfect decision, keeping you stuck in analysis paralysis forever.

Successful people know there’s no perfect decision. They make a decision and move forward. If it doesn’t work, they make another quick decision and pivot. 

Adjusting as you go ahead, not waiting for perfection, is how you get results.

Related: How To Make The Right Decision When Your Head And Your Heart Don’t Agree

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4. Perfectionism Increases Stress (And Risk Of Anxiety, Depression, Etc)

Perfectionism requires that everything you say, every action you take, every project you start be absolutely, 100% perfect.

Pressure much?

That pressure puts a huge amount of stress on you – every single minute of every single day. 

Chronic stress is the root of all evil. It puts your body in constant fight or flight mode, turning even the most normal of situations into a potential threat – because to the perfectionist’s mind, not attaining perfection will result in rejection and abandonment.

When you’re in constant fight or flight mode, your immune system takes a hit. You’re more prone to anxiety, depression, cancer, cardiovascular diseases…

You can’t build your business and share your treasures with the world from that place. 

Related: Why You Need To Stop Focusing On The Negative (And What To Do Instead)

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5. Perfectionism Isn’t Authentic

The biggest way perfectionism holds you back is by hiding the real you.

When you’re showing up as Little Miss Perfect, people can feel it. They can feel you’re not authentic, that you’re trying to be someone you’re not.

You’ll struggle to get clients because they can’t connect with you. You’ll feel like your friends won’t get you because you’re not really showing them what’s going on behind the scenes. Everything in life just feels… hard. 

Take off the fancy dress and show people who you are. Vulnerability is scary. It’s also the key to connection and building genuine relationships with your audience, your clients, your friends, your colleagues, your partner…

Vulnerability will get you all the things perfectionism always promised you but never delivered. 

Related: Who Do You Need To Become To Build Your Dream Business?

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How To Overcome Perfectionism

Here’s a 4-step process to overcome perfectionism once and for all

Step 1. Acknowledge Perfectionism

The first step is to acknowledge your personal brand of perfectionism. Grab pen and paper and answer these questions.

  • What inner limiting beliefs and expectations lead me to pursue perfection?
  • What outer expectations (from the world, culture, media) lead me to pursue perfection?
  • What am I afraid will happen if I don’t reach perfection?
  • When do your perfectionism show up the most?
  • In what area of your life does your perfectionism show up the most?

Now that you’re aware of your perfectionist pattern, it’ll be easier to recognise it when it shows up in your everyday life.

Related: How To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind For Success

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Step 2. Find A Healthy Coping Mechanism

The easiest way to get rid of a bad pattern/habit? Substitute it with a healthier one.

Let’s say your brand of perfectionism is procrastination. You put off launching your online courses until they’re absolutely perfect. After step 1, you now know that’s because you have a fear of failure. As long as you’re putting it off, you won’t have to face it.

To just tell yourself to suck up and launch anyway doesn’t work. As soon as you’re ready to press the publish button, fear will come up and stop you in your tracks.

What you need is a healthy way to cope with fear when it comes up (and it WILL come up – you’re human, my multi-passionate friend).

Instead of reverting back to perfectionism, what else could you do to calm down the fear, so you can go ahead with the launch?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Breathe work
  • Meditation
  • Go out for a walk in nature
  • Journal about your emotions
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Hire a coach

P.S. Don’t beat yourself up if you relapse into perfectionism. Replacing a bad pattern with a healthy one takes time. Be kind with yourself and vow to do better next time. 

Related: What To Do When You Feel Discouraged

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Step 3: Take Imperfect Action

Now that you have a way to calm down your fear, it’s time to take imperfect action.

What’s the first step you need to take to reach your goal?

Maybe it’s buying the domain name for your new blog. Write a sales email for your coaching programme. Go live for the first time in your Facebook group. 

Break down your goal into the smallest step you can take, breathe in deeply, and do it. 

The goal here isn’t to do everything perfectly. It’s just to get going. It’s to make a small change every day so that you can get closer and closer to your goal. 

You can do it.

Related: How To Start When You Don’t Feel Ready

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Step 4: Get Help

Overcoming perfectionism isn’t easy. You’ve been operating with this pattern for years, so it’ll take time to reprogram your mind and ditch it for good.

In the meantime, you’ll have relapses, freakouts, and a good cry (or ten). All totally normal. We’ve all been there.

The best thing you can do is surround yourself with people who get you and support you. Don’t try to do it alone.

Talk to your friends. Join Facebook groups and communities for recovering perfectionists. Listen to inspiring podcasts. Hire a coach.

Your support system will make your recovery easier… and much more fun.

Related: 3 Things Successful Multi-Passionate Entrepreneurs Do That You Don’t

Wrapping It Up

Perfectionism isn’t who you are. It’s not a superpower that helps you succeed. It’s just fear in a fancy dress: it promises to help you reach your dreams while stabbing you in the back. The best way to overcome it is to acknowledge how it shows up in your life, find a healthy way to calm down your fear, and take imperfect action – with the help and support of a community who gets you.

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I'm Giorgia, a life purpose and business coach. I help you find your calling and turn it into a business, so you can make the impact you were born to make.

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