Perfectionism is a plague that disrupts dreams, prevents action, and haunts our deepest thoughts. It stems from a root belief that we are not good enough to achieve or be loved. Thus, we must be perfect in order to be lovable or obtain our goals. It makes everything we do so much harder than necessary. We are so hard on ourselves in the process and every mistake is further evidence of these beliefs. Thus, the pursuit of perfection overtakes our lives and puts us in a constant position of failure since perfection is not achievable. I know this because for most of my life I felt this way.
I passed up so many opportunities because I could always see 50 ways why the idea would fail and perhaps only one way it could succeed. I would talk myself out of moving forward for lack of a perfect plan, not knowing the outcome in advance, being perceived as inept by others, and not having my ducks in a row. There were always so many flaws in any plan. My sense of self could not bear the thought of making mistakes even minor ones. Thus, I could not put myself fully behind any goal for many years. It was not until I could separate my sense of self from my outcomes that this changed. I began to seek excellent instead of perfection.
To do this I needed to take action on an idea any idea. There was no wrong way to go. I had to be okay with the flaws in my plan and to know that whatever I did I could improve it as I went along. I did not need to know everything ahead of time including the final outcome. I came to learn that I would never be able to know the final outcome and that my ducks would only line up once I began to lead them in a direction. The direction I chose was not nearly as important as the process of choosing and beginning to move. I can change course at any time as new information and feedback are obtained. Feedback can never be obtained from mere planning alone. Feedback comes from actions taken and mistakes made.
So now I seek excellence instead of perfection. I seek to make minor improvements as I find the flaws. I am okay with doing something poorly long enough to get better at it. I am okay with being a beginner again in new areas of my life. I am on the learning team always and so I am constantly getting better. I no longer seek to be perfect. I just want to be learning and growing in new and different ways. I want to do my best and have that be good enough. I will give perfection back to the universe where it belongs.
By Joe Parker
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