Everything has a crack in it. That is how the light gets in. –Cohen
Many of us, myself included and my mother before me, were raised on the expectation that a good person strives for perfection. Women especially battle this constant drive to achieve near-perfect outcomes. Yet, while most people understand that perfect—by definition “faultless” or “flawless”—is impossible, what’s interesting is that we still tend live our lives like the goal is to get there. We tell ourselves that if we could just get a little more organized, try a little harder, be more focused or committed or diligent, we’d finally have it all figured out.
Are we crazy? I mean, what’s that all about anyway?
No, we haven’t lost our marbles, but there is something interesting happening inside. Based on what we know about brain development, before we developed the ability to reason (around age six or seven), we fell hook, line and sinker for the idea that perfection is the the brass ring. Even though we understand it’s futile, that story runs in our unconscious mind leading to a thousand different ways we see how we’re not “doing it right” and not “good enough” and that we’re missing the mark while others are winning at life.
Perfection (and near-perfection) is one of the most self-sabotaging irrational beliefs we hold. This year, let yourself off the hook you’ve created. Stop comparing yourself to others and using snide inner comments to keep yourself down. Shifting away from self-defeating tendencies is completely within your control, and THAT is actually how you begin to rock at life!
Here’s how to break the perfection cycle:
1. Set the intention to let go of perfectionism.
2. Accept yourself and your long-held desire for near-perfect outcomes; let it be OK. You are magnificent, just as you are, without changing anything.
3. Inquire within. Are you willing to see things differently? Are you willing to see that being perfect is not real? What if living in a way that’s more real will bring you more peace and wellbeing? Allow this idea to enter your mind as a possibility.
4. Make the choice to shift your mindset to how you want to “improve” rather than “perfect” in a few areas of your life.
5. Acknowledge yourself each time you let go a little more of a standard of perfection. The brain likes extremely small steps best—they become lasting and effective. This is the key to real progress.
Engaging in this process in incredibly empowering. Choose happiness every time over expectations of what you should be doing or how you should be doing it. I encourage you to apply the five steps as a practice to reset goals in each area of your life.
Wishing you a year of freedom and much, much more joy!