Confessions From A Recovering Perfectionist

December 14, 2021   |    minute read

brown wooden blocks on white table

Perfectionism – the killer of so many dreams.

I should know – from my own experience and seeing it play out in the businesses of clients.

You may have heard me talk about procrastination by perfectionism and good enough is good enough.

When you use perfectionism to procrastinate you don’t ship.

You don’t produce…

The home page doesn’t get updated because you haven’t got the perfect logo…

You don’t email your list because your business model isn’t quite right…

You don’t build your audience on social because your photography isn’t as good as it will be in 12 months time…

That’s partly what I’ve been doing the past couple of years. I knew that I wasn’t quite heading in the right direction with my business so I procrastinated a lot because things weren’t perfect.

Or in other words, I really cut back on how much I was producing because I knew that I was going to evolve my business, I just hadn’t worked out how.

With the consequences that brought.

It cost me in many ways because things weren’t perfect so I was procrastinating. Not getting things done.

I’ve been working on that lately and now I’ve become more of an optimalist.

In his book The Pursuit of Perfect, Tal Ben-Shahar (one of the world’s leading Positive Psychologists) tells us that we can either be an unhealthy perfectionist or a high-functioning perfectionist which is much healthier.

He gives the two forms different names Perfectionist and Optimalist.

Those who practice the unhealthy form are Perfectionists. He says that a Perfectionist fails to take into account reality which leads to anxiety and depression because it’s impossible to meet the standards they set so they inevitably fail and beat themselves up.

For example, thinking that you can replace your well-paid job with your business in 6 months time whilst working on your business around your full-time demanding in the evenings and on weekends with minimal budget for marketing and getting some help to do the work.

In contrast, the Optimalist embraces the constraints of their reality.

They still have really high standards, however, they rub their vision up against reality. They know they only have so many hours in a day, that creating a full time income from your business takes longer when you have limited time and cashflow to leverage.

Knowing this, they construct their optimal life, their vision, within the boundaries of their reality. That way, when it takes longer to replace the income from the job that they hate, they don’t get frustrated, overwhelmed or think they’ve failed.

They know that they are moving forward in an optimal way, optimal deriving from the latin optimus which means best…

Which version shows up most for you – the perfectionist or the optimalist?

And more to the point, how can you hold high standards whilst embracing the constraints of your reality today, tomorrow and the next day?

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