10 Ways to say NO to Perfectionism this January

My final speaking gig last year was at the annual conference of Women in Communications and Energy. They had a great lunch activity. Sit with someone you don’t know and share the best advise you’ve ever received.

Afterward a few people volunteered to share something they heard during the meal that was meaningful for them. This one stuck with me all through the holidays:

My lunch partner told me about her Grandma Rose. Grandma Rose had 8 kids and always said: “Honey, done is better than perfect.” I SO needed to hear this. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve been ironing my 3 year old son’s t-shirts. No more.

Perfectionism

My heart went out to her. Ironing T-shirts. Can you imagine? But that is what perfectionism will do. It will hijack your thinking and make you believe that ironing t-shirts = being a good mother.

10 Ways to say NO to Perfectionism this JanuaryThe problem with perfectionism is that it doesn’t actually make us feel perfect. It makes us feel inadequate. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way offers that: Perfectionism is not the quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.

In addition to the perception that we aren’t good enough, another belief that feeds perfectionism is the fear of making a mistake, or of not ‘getting it right’.

10 Ways to Say NO to Being Perfect: Make Deliberate Mistakes

One way to release this fear is to practice making mistakes on purpose. As a first step toward breaking your perfectionism this year, experiment with one of these:

1. Wear mismatched socks to work one day and see how it feels to deliberately not ‘get it right.’ One of two things will happen. Either, no one will notice—and truly, why would they? How often do you look at someone’s socks?? Or, someone might notice. Then you can practice not being embarrassed, because you did it on purpose.

2. If you usually review your reports three times before submitting them, see what happens if you only proofread them twice.

3. Instead of responding to an email immediately, wait 15 minutes—or even YIKES!—an hour, before you reply.

4. Send an email with a grammar mistake. End a sentence with a proposition or put an apostrophe in the wrong place.

5. Answer a question when you are only 85% sure of the details.

6. Start a project before you feel 100% ready.

7. Apply for a job when you don’t meet all of the listed requirements. This one is especially important for women, as research from Hewlett Packard has found that men will apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.

8. Take an improv class to learn to recover from making mistakes. My husband’s improv class in Manhattan is filled with people from the business world who are learning to turn mistakes into creative ideas.

9. Let your son wear a wrinkled t-shirt to pre-school.

10. And finally, remember Grandma Rose’s advice, because the more you can get done, the more productive and accomplished you’ll feel.

Jumpstart January and make 2018 your year of getting things done!

About the Author:

I started my career as a professional actress and now work with business folks helping them increase their executive presence by learning the skills actors use to have great stage presence. Clients include: Google, Comcast and the Harvard Executive Education program (yes, THAT Harvard. My Mom is too proud.) Typically companies bring me in as a keynote speaker or workshop leader. Let's talk about how I can help you, too.

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