Perfectionism is Stealing Your Joy
I have spent 90% of my life trying to check boxes.
First, I was trying to do get really good grades and be the best at extra-curriculars so that I could get into a good college. Then I did the same so that I could find a good job. Then I worked long hours and strove for perfection in my job so that I could get a promotion, a raise, etc.
And that’s just in the career realm! I also worked my butt off to be in the best shape, have the cutest outfits, decorate my house just-so, and be the best friend, sister, daughter, etc. that I could be.
It was exhausting—physically, yes, but mentally and emotionally as well. Mostly because it didn’t matter how hard I worked, things just never seemed to be quite enough. I always fell a little short of my expectations or my goal.
I thought that I felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled because I was in the wrong career.But, even after I found a career in life coaching that I was wildly passionate about, I still found myself trying to check all the boxes of what a "perfect" coach and a "perfect" coaching business would look like… and maintain all the other areas of my life to perfection despite the massive pay cut that occurs when you start a new career from 0.
And perfectionism can suck the joy out of ANYTHING, even your biggest passions.
Sometime last year I found myself exhausted and contemplating quitting. I thought switching to a new job that wasn’t so emotionally taxing was the solution.
But then I realized that the problem wasn’t that my job was emotionally taxing, it was that my perfectionism was emotionally taxing.
There are a lot of theories out there about how there is both a good and a bad side to perfectionism, but I disagree. There is no “good” side to perfectionism because perfectionism is inherently self-violent.
The argument is that perfectionists set very high standards for themselves and therefore achieve much more than someone who doesn’t have such lofty goals. They push themselves instead of settling.
“Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you will still be among the stars.” (Les Brown) You know, that kind of thinking.
The problem that I see with this argument is that the perfectionist is rarely satisfied landing amongst the stars. In fact, perfectionists beat themselves up for it because the stars ARE NOT THE MOON. They might not even see the stars.
So even though you are amongst the stars, you don’t feel good. You don’t feel fulfilled or satisfied. It isn’t good enough, and in turn your brain tells you that YOU aren’t good enough.
“When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver.”- Brene Brown
The only way that landing amongst the stars can be good is if we fully accept and embrace being there. If we acknowledge that we are inherently worthy and good enough no matter where we land.
And if we are standing in full acceptance and worthiness, then perfectionism cannot exist.
The definition of perfectionism is: refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
And what is perfection? Being free from all flaws or defect.
We KNOW that this is impossible to achieve for a human. It may be possible for some sort of physical product, but even then, outside of the scientific world flaws are mostly subjective.
So we know that perfectionism is futile because—for all intents and purposes—perfection doesn’t exist.
So why do we keep striving for it and torturing ourselves in the process?
Answer: because we don’t feel good enough.
And instead of doing the inner work that is necessary to heal this feeling, we project it on our outer world and seek the sensation of being good enough in our external accomplishments.
If you really want to eliminate perfectionism from your life and heal the “not good enough” wound, you HAVE to do the inner work.
If you don’t have your own approval, you will never be satisfied with anyone else’s; the bar will just keep moving.
Ridding ourselves of perfectionism doesn’t mean that we get lazy and stop setting goals or creating exceptional work, it just means that our self-worth doesn’t depend on it.
Doing the inner work gives you access to self-trust, self-love, self-acceptance and a feeling of wholeness and worthiness that has nothing to do with anything outside of yourself.
And from that place, everything in your life can change. Your relationships get juicier, your career choices more aligned, and healthy habits fall easily into place.
And the work that you take on gets to be something you do because you want to and because it brings joy.
And life gets to be fun again.
If you are SO READY to do the inner work to ditch perfectionism and start finally feeling good enough and having fun in your life, set up a call to share your story and see if coaching is right for you.
If you aren’t quite ready for coaching, then grab my free journal guide and start getting acquainted with your inner world.