This is Part 3, the final piece of the Escape Perfectionism series.
There’s a huge difference between doing something well and doing it perfectly. Attempting to be perfect results in feelings of inadequacy and interferes with completing projects. Excellence, on the other hand, is attainable and is always more than good enough.
Pursue Excellence Instead of Perfection
So what does pursuing excellence have to do anything? You might think if you strive for perfection on everything you do, you’ll at least make it close to your goal right?
Not exactly. See, obsessive perfectionism is frequently a sign of being overly concerned with prestige, material possessions, someone else’s expectations and ideas of perfect and other external factors that are prone to change. Those are things that have nothing to do with your own potential, skills, or knowledge.
So when shift your focus from perfection to excellence, you know that whatever task you set out to do will be completed at a high enough level so that there’s no cause for concern. You know your work will always meet whatever requirements you put upon it before starting it.
Quick story: my 14 year old niece somehow got it in her head (like I don’t know where she gets it from!) that getting anything less than a B (and sometimes less than an A) is failure and she stresses out about it. So I sat her down one day and told her this:
I love you and am proud of you and will support you so you can succeed in anything you want to do. Always remember this: as long as you do your VERY BEST, you are winning and have done enough. You can’t do more than your best. So if you get a C on a test and you know you studied hard, that’s a well earned C in my book! Don’t fret about it. Feel good knowing that you put your best foot forward and move on.
Note: I’ve had to have this same conversation with myself at times! A lot of times we have to stand up to ourselves against negative self talk and when we are our own bully.
Pursuing excellence is about accepting your human-ness (you’re not a robot after all!) and knowing you’re not always in control of outcomes.
Create Your Level of Excellence
When my niece and nephew came to live with me, it was an uphill battle trying to get them to be neat freaks like myself. Their rooms wouldn’t be as tidy as I’d like, kitchen counters were not always wiped off, and a host of other “little” things that would turn into big things in my head but then I *finally* decided that I have to set a level of excellence for how things should be done – not just for me but for them as well.
So instead of my nit-picking over every little thing, I have accepted that they are teens and not everything is going to be in place perfectly. If I want it to be different, that means I’d have to do it myself and ain’t nobody got time for that. I think all my parents would understand me on this one! LOL
Now YOU have to do the same and commit to a level of excellence you wish to have before getting started on anything. Once the proper level has been set, you now have a target, a goal that’s been chosen with some thought and intelligence. Now, simply perform the task to that level and stop. That task is completed, and it’s time to do something else.
Obviously, doing something more specialized like surgery or using heavy machinery would require a higher level of excellence and precision than vacuuming or making beds but as long as you have some type of idea of how you want things to turn out, you can withstand a little give and take and won’t end up with an angry household and lots of migraines!
Nowadays, when I catch something out of place at home, I either get it myself or mention it to the kiddos for them to do it but I don’t get frustrated about it anymore! #winning
Over to you…
As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve realized that striving for perfection kills success! Giving up a habit of pursuing perfection might seem challenging at first but think about it like this: when you pursue excellence instead, you’ll be happier, more productive, and you’ll maintain your sanity much more easily!
Also, it’s actually easier to pursue excellence when you set realistic goals. So I keep the following mental notes highlighted in my head at all times:
- Always do my best
- Decide on a level of excellence before starting anything
- Show up, get ish done, and enjoy the journey!
So what have you learned from this series? What will you do differently now?
Did you miss the other articles in this series? Take a gander: