Do you struggle with perfectionism? If so you’re not alone. Many of us (yours truly included) sometimes get so caught up in striving for some perfect state that we miss the joy in what we’re trying to create by making the effort in the first place. Luckily, there’s a way to help break this habit, and it’s an alternative take on that tried and true Stephen Covey adage of start with the end in mind.
Anytime we do something we set an expectation of what the outcome “should” look like. This is the “end in mind” part of the process. But what if, in addition to the end in mind, we focused on how we want that end in mind to feel and added another key question:
What expectation would make me feel content and satisfied?
In other words, what would a place of “enough” look like? What would allow us to accomplish our goal up to a state of “enough” without tipping over into perfectionistic tendencies such as overthinking, procrastination, and nitpicking over unimportant details? This leads to the next key question of:
How can we tie together “enough” with contentment and satisfaction?
Contentment and satisfaction are highly personal and individualized feelings. They will force you to face the nasty truth of perfection and understand that:
Perfectionism is about your own self-judgment.
By turning down (or turning off) the critical voice in your head, you will free up incredible amounts of energy and time that can be spent doing more satisfying things that fill you with contentment.
See how that cycle works? By letting go of perfectionism and self – judgment, even a little at a time, you can shift your energy and time toward doing more satisfying things in ways that make you feel content. Even some tasks you don’t enjoy can become bearable because you’re focusing on doing them to a place of enough, not to a place of exhaustion and discouragement.
And wouldn’t it be easy if we could wave a magic wand and make this shift happen immediately? Yes. But life doesn’t work that way does it? It can be tough to turn down those voices and stop being critical. It can be hard to reset expectations based on both feelings and measurable results.
Working to a place of enough doesn’t mean you get to do sloppy work, shirk important tasks, or try and offload everything you really don’t like doing. What it does mean is that you get to approach tasks and duties with a new perspective. You get to decide what “enough” is and how much energy you’re going to devote to something all while feeling good about what you’ve accomplished.
In essence, letting go of perfection is about asking the right questions:
• What do I want the outcome to be and why?
• What is “enough” for me in this situation?
• What expectation about this outcome would make me feel satisfied and content?
And making peace with yourself because…
Perfectionistic people are almost always their harshest critics
I point this out not to make you feel bad but because it’s immensely freeing. How you feel about yourself starts and ends with you. If you’re your harshest critic, it’s up to you to work with that critical voice and assure it that a place of “enough” is indeed, enough.
By focusing on satisfaction, contentment, and working to a place of “enough,” you can break free from perfectionistic tendencies and start feeling more confident and energized both personally and professionally. Asking the right questions, making peace with yourself, and working with the pesky critic in your head will ultimately allow you to stop spinning your wheels and spend more time and energy on things that give you joy, peace, and happiness.