Hey, professional women! I can’t believe this is the last week of September and we’re heading into Quarter 4 already! This week’s piece will be a smidge shorter, because I’ve got a podcast episode to record with a coaching peer and the Zone of Purpose™ lesson to share. So, let’s dive in!
Last week, I talked about loss and transition and doing what you love via your legacy. Today, I want to share more about one of the tips I gave: “Be a witness to what your years ahead can look like vs. a perfectionist.”
For those who prefer the audio version of this post, click the play button below.
Perfectionism is Definitely Not Perfect
First, I want to share something I saw in a women’s network over the weekend that I’m a part of. Someone asked a brilliant question: what we thought was the difference between perfectionism and excellence. You know, I had to think about that for a second because all too often we strive for excellence, don’t we?
After marinating on that for a time, I responded: perfectionism almost robs you of excellence, whereas “to be excellent,” you accept your highs and lows, and shadows, along with your inner beauty. Now, I’ll confess one of my most prominent human traits in this lifetime is perfectionism. Added to this is a feeling of Imposter Syndrome. These are things I have to work through every day and especially with certain activities or tasks. And I guess it boils down to, how we notice we’re “over-striving?” I know, it’s a new word but let’s roll with it.
Why Do We “Over-strive?”
Now, there are times in life when we need to strive to get something accomplished or taken care of: a job interview, a life event, or to meet a deadline in preparation for a life event. Striving isn’t inherently “bad,” but when we’re going a million miles an hour, all the time, “chronically,” that’s where we can just lose ourselves in the process. We can also lose our health, our focus, and our “why,” or that legacy we’ve talked about.
To be honest, there are many reasons why I strive for perfectionism: a childhood/young adulthood history of chaos, wanting safety, and continuing to be ambitious. Often, I like to wrap projects up a certain way, or I’ve envisioned them going a certain way… Famous last words sometimes, right? But another reason why I’ve tried to be so perfect on the outside, even while struggling on the inside, is that I wanted the outcome to look seamless. As in, if the outcome of what I accomplished seemed “perfect,” then maybe nobody saw the mess that happened along the way…
It’s Time for Some Honesty
But you wanna know what I’ve recognized over the years? Perfectionism and over-striving are absolutely fucking exhausting. We don’t need more exhaustion: we need more peace, my friends.
So, here’s something that we can do together. Notice I’m saying we, because I’m not perfect or a guru at this… Every time we’re trying to be perfect and we’re overextending, let’s physically and mentally stop and ask ourselves:
- How can I create and carry more peace in this work or task?
- When and how can I literally breathe easier as I do this?
- And what can I do now to maintain a sense of balance during this project (or life transition even)?
My friends, it’s easy to get caught up in autopilot and the larger culture of “being everything to everybody.” Or my personal favorite is burnout, recharge, burnout, recharge, etc. Honestly, this doesn’t have to be our mode of living. And we’re much deeper, as beings, when not striving for perfection… We can be excellence embodied. And honestly, we already are, we just don’t see it sometimes.
Perfectionism keeps us from living an expansive life. It’s constrictive and can become a “stay in your lane” style of living, because we want safety, control, or to feel good about ourselves. But we’re here to expand in all ways: life, work, and in letting go. This includes relaxing our grip on life and working with that ebb-and-flow, so we can see possibilities we never even dreamed of.
That’s it for this week! Feeling inspired? If you’re looking for more updates and want a more direct connection, join (for free) the FSW Circle. And if you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact me 1:1 this way. Chat with you soon!