Do you feel that what you accomplish is never quite good enough? That if only you’d had a bit more time it would have been perfect? You are not alone! And while it’s good to do the very best you can, to aim for perfection can be an obstacle, not only to your success, but also to your happiness, self-confidence, peace of mind and ability to really enjoy life.
Perfectionism refers to self-defeating thoughts and behaviours associated with high and often unrealistic goals. Although society generally sees it as desirable and actually encourages us to aim for it, it is the fast-track to unhappiness. Recent studies have shown that perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success, because the anxiety about making mistakes gets in the way.
So rather than aiming to be perfect (which you can never achieve), aim for excellence which is a personal journey towards doing whatever it is, to the very best of your ability. And because the more you do something, the better you get, this approach also helps you build your confidence as you become more skilled.
- Permission To Fail
The first thing to do is to give yourself permission to fail. No-one succeeds all the time and we can learn more from our failures than our successes. Often failing at something leads to a breakthrough which can be used to adapt the process so that next time the outcome is successful. Edison, when he was inventing the light bulb said ““I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I know it sounds strange, but embrace the possibility of failure. The quest for “perfect” is a major player in holding people back from trying something new. Perfectionists often spend so much time planning they don’t actually get around to taking any action. And what’s worse, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, self-doubt. Take Robert Schuller’s advice – “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly”.
- Mute your Inner Critic
Overcoming perfectionism means silencing your inner critic, that voice inside your head that tells you that something isn’t good enough. This voice is like background music – it’s there all the time, so pause regularly during the day and tune in to the thoughts you’re thinking. If it’s telling you that you messed things up (again), that you deserve to be overlooked for promotion, that the report you just wrote just isn’t good enough, recognize this as unhelpful. Remember you are in charge of the messages you give yourself, so take back control by replacing the harsh criticism with something more loving and supportive. By doing this you’ll notice that it will affect your relationships in a positive way and your self-confidence will grow as you develop this habit of not allowing your Inner Critic free-rein.
- Forget about what other people might think of you
Learn this off by heart “What other people think of me is none of my business”! You see, you can’t control what other people think. While we all want to fit in and gain the approval of our family, friends and peers, this is unrealistic (you can’t please all of the people all of the time). If having the approval of others is the only way you know how to feel happy, then you’re giving away your happiness to someone else, and this is likely to get you nothing but misery. Rather, live life by your own values – and be fearless!
Change your thinking – Change your Life
I am dedicated to helping you identify your strengths, boost your self-esteem and raise your confidence to new heights. My Confidence Coaching Program is suitable for both business and social situations. So for more information about how you can improve your confidence, contact me here