Fear & Other Tough Stuff: perfectionism

The perfect holiday. The perfect performance. The perfect house. The perfect life. Everything has to be perfect. You can’t make mistakes. Failing is unacceptable. You have to be perfect.

The perfectionist mindset creates this reality: Before you even swing your legs out of bed in the morning and put your feet on the floor, you know you’re going to come up short.

Excellence is the highest bar we should set. And sometimes even excellence is too high. Good enough will do.

Perfectionism is all about expending more and more energy to achieve increasingly smaller gains.

And here’s what comes along with perfectionism: Procrastination. Fear of failure. Overemphasis on “shoulds” and “have tos”. Being hypercritical. Workaholism. Defensiveness. An all or nothing mindset. Unrealistic expectations and standards.

Pretty bleak, right? Is any of that a good use of your energy?

It’s exhausting trying to live up to some unattainable expectation and always coming up short. Or momentarily attaining this elusive state of perfection and then turning yourself inside out to maintain what is impossible to sustain.

The relentless internal measurement is exhausting: Am I enough? Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? This empty quest leaves you drained and depleted.

Because there’s simply no energy gain in always coming up short and never being quite enough.

  • A perfectionist mindset causes you to be stressed, impatient, rigid, fearful, demanding, discontent. Is that who you want to be?
  • A perfectionist mindset prevents you from being relaxed, compassionate with yourself and others, truly present, adventurous, satisfied, grateful. Do you want to cut yourself off from these?

If you were to embrace good enough is perfection—how does that impact your energy and change what’s possible?