A Guest post by Cori Padgett from Big Girl Branding.
Perfection is for losers.
There, I said it.
And I can say that because I used to be a bit of a perfectionist. I’m pot, you’re kettle, and we’re both freakin’ black. Feel better?
And frankly, I still am if I’m honest about it. You could say I’m a “recovering perfectionist”.
Seriously, I think it stems from my slightly O.C.D. tendencies. Tendencies like the insane urge to eat the same amount of M&M’s on each side of my mouth. Only green on the left, only blue on the right.
Or the ridiculous compulsion to leap out of bed at midnight, knowing I already locked the front door… but feeling compelled to check it one more time, “just in case”.
Or my friend who literally will follow the cord from the iron all the way to the wall, KNOWING it’s not plugged in, but making extra sure it isn’t anyway…
We’re nuts. Isn’t everyone?
At least a little?
OK, fine, maybe that’s just me… sheesh.
Honestly, striving for perfect is a losing battle. The only perfect being in this world is the Good Lord Himself, and last I checked… I’m not God, how about you?
No one is perfect. And when you’re constantly seeking perfection in everything you do, you’re doomed to a life of dissatisfaction, discontent, and stagnation because you are unable to move forward on any of your goals.
And if you’re a writer and a blogger like me… well let’s just say that if I tried to reach perfection in everything I did… I’d likely still be cleaning vacation homes for a living and praying all of my bills got paid.
So hold on a sec while I give imperfection a big juicy kiss on the lips in monumental gratitude for saving me.
Muah! Now seriously, let’s talk more about you.
- If you’re struggling each day within the chokehold of perfection…
- If you’re wasting time and valuable resources trying to get something “just right” before you do anything with it…
- Or if you find yourself deleting pages and pages of work because you suddenly decided it “wasn’t any good”… Nay, scratch that… let’s call it like it is shall we? Because it “wasn’t perfect”…
Then I’m sorry friend, but it’s time.
Time that is, to don your steel-toed boots (“sh%# kickers” we call ‘em in the Dirty South) and kick perfection’s rosy little ass to the curb! Preferably with a resounding splat for good measure.
You with me? Good, let’s get started.
The First Swift Kick- Set Attainable Goals
I’m talking about blogging and writing here, but really this can be applied to just about anything. Perfectionists tend to make a habit of setting unrealistic goals for themselves. And then when they don’t measure up or reach those goals, they’re ashamed of themselves.
They call themselves quitters, or “stupid”.
They put themselves down, and engage in some pretty negative self-talk… telling themselves they just aren’t good enough to get where they want to go… if only they could do “this” they’d be so much better at “that”.
I mean really… would you talk to someone else like that?
Would you call someone stupid because they couldn’t do something perfectly?
So why in the ever-lovin’ world would you talk to yourself that way? Just sayin’.
Stop setting goals for yourself that you don’t believe in. Strive for excellence in all you do, not perfection. Yes, you should always stretch yourself. And yes goals you set for yourself should feel slightly scary… slightly out of reach even.
But they shouldn’t feel impossible.
For instance, I have a goal to reach 2,000 new subscribers to Big Girl Branding in the next 6 months. (Feel free to help a girl out btw!)
Is that goal attainable? I believe it is.
Is it slightly out of reach for me right now? I’d say so, as right now between RSS, Email, and my newsletter, I’ve only got about 250 subscribers. (Thanks to ALL of you, BIG hugs!)
That means I’ve got about 1750 more to go before I’ll reach that goal. And you can bet that if I got hung up on creating “perfect” blog posts, and having a “perfect” design, and making my newsletter a “perfect” mix of humor, smarts, and useful info… I probably wouldn’t even have any readers, much less a subscriber!
I’d be totally stuck.
Living in fear of being judged.
Living in fear of being seen as “imperfect”.
And if I set that goal even higher, say 10,000 subscribers in 6 months… I’d likely be completely stalled because the goal I set for myself wasn’t believable to me and I’d be so hung up on being perfect that my inner mantra would end up being something along the lines of “I’ll never get there” or “It’s too hard” or “I’m not ready”.
It will be hard. I’ll probably never be 100% ready. But I will get there.
And so will you, wherever “there” is.
But I know that you’re smart enough to know that you won’t get there overnight, and you won’t get there by getting stuck under the thumb of perfection. So set incremental, attainable goals for yourself that feel just mildly, and then get rockin’ with the action taking.
Set about making them a reality.
As you do that, repeat after me… “Action will get you everywhere, perfection will get you nowhere.” “Strive for excellent, not perfect.” Now say that three times fast! (Kidding.)
Then get busy creating excellence in all you do, and let go of that ridiculous notion of perfection.
The Second Swift Kick- Enjoy the Process of Achievement
When is the last time you (speaking to you perfectionists here) stopped long enough to appreciate where you are right now?
To appreciate what you’ve accomplished already? As a perfectionist there is a tendency to be constantly looking for new and better ways of doing something. A bit like the “grass is always greener” syndrome. You’re never quite satisfied with anything “as-is”.
So you need to make it a habit to pat yourself on the back for every milestone that moves you a step closer to your goals, whatever they may be and appreciate the moment you’re in.
For me, that means appreciating the fact that I have 250 subscribers that read my blog already! That’s no small feat, especially when you’re starting out.
And people these days are stingy with their time and their emails… so if they are taking the time to keep up with you and your blog… that’s a huge compliment! Treat it as such and call yourself a winner, because even when you don’t feel “perfect” you’re still pretty freakin’ awesome.
Just tell yourself “Cori said so!” if ever you’re feeling doubtful.
The Third Swift Kick- Connect With Other People
Preferably other imperfect ones. (And in case you forgot… that means everyone is fair game!)
Honestly, sometimes when you’re feeling stuck in the spinning abyss of an “I can’t do this, it’s not perfect, everyone will hate it!” moment…
Slow your roll man!
Stop what you’re doing (or trying to do) get up and walk away. Get out of your house, go have coffee with a friend or three, and cop a squat in a park somewhere to see how the rest of the world lives. It’s a sure bet that things aren’t perfect for the rest of the world either!
(I know, I know! You… meet sledgehammer wrapped up neatly in “no one’s perfect” stickers!)
You’ll even be singing the “No One’s Perfect” theme song before I’m done with you.
Really though, connecting with other people can help you see that you’re not the only one that struggles with the insane urge to be perfect all the time. Trust me there are a ton of us out there!
You can probably safely bet that Darren, despite his pretty massive successes in the blogosphere has never been perfect. (Sorry Darren!)
And heck, Bill Gates went after what he wanted with barely a plan in place! That’s so far from perfect it’s laughable, but just look where he is today.
And sitting down with friends who are equally crazy but imperfect can help you see that perfect isn’t necessary for success. The only thing necessary for success is the ability and willingness to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done in the absolute best way that you can right then.
No more, no less.
The Fourth and Final Swift Kick- Accept Mistakes for What They Are
A somewhat painful learning experience. As a recovering perfectionist, I know there is often a tendency to view mistakes and screw-ups as failures.
It’s now time to change your point of view.
Mistakes are not failures they are lessons learned.
The only time a mistake is a failure is when you don’t walk away with new knowledge about yourself and your goals. When you don’t walk away with new self-awareness, I’m afraid that means you’re doomed to repeat those mistakes, sometimes over and over again until you get it.
And guess what it means when you repeat a behavior but expect a different outcome?
It means you’re insane, so stop that!
Mistakes are a part of life, a part of learning and growing. I’ve made more than my fair share over time and it’s a sure bet you will too. I can state this with absolute assurance because I already know that perfection is never attainable for mere mortals like you and me, despite our best efforts.
But it’s time to realize that you don’t have to be perfect. Loosen the chokehold a bit. You don’t have to be a perfect blogger, or a perfect writer, or a perfect mother or father. You don’t have to run a perfect business, or have a perfect home.
Just make it your goal to always give your best; to strive for “excellent” in everything you do… and you’ll get as pretty darn close to perfect as you’ll likely ever be.
And on that note…
“Excellent” is pretty damn good in my book, so let me know if you need to borrow it.
Cori is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. If you’d like to harness her creative brains and dubious brawn to guest post on your blog, just stalk her on Twitter and ask her. I’m “almost” sure she doesn’t bite. Well… like 95% sure.