Experiencing perfectionism in business can hold you back from launching and growing the business of your dreams.
If you’re a perfectionist, it can make business — and life — even more challenging. While it can feel difficult to abandon perfectionism entirely, you can learn ways to loosen it’s grip, so that you can spend more time enjoying your business — and your life!
The true costs of being a perfectionist
Perfectionism is a game of constantly striving — to be the best, to be infallible, to be enough.
Perfectionists are born out of perfectly good intentions: to achieve excellence. And this behavior is reinforced when you earn rewards and recognition from parents, colleagues, and bosses.
But even if being a perfectionist does reap some (external) rewards, it can take a toll on your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Do these symptoms sound familiar?
- Burnout, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety
- Indecision, procrastination, and constantly second-guessing yourself
- Getting down on yourself when things don’t turn out perfectly
- Feeling disconnected, alone, and not good enough
These are common complaints of perfectionists, but you don’t have to let this be true for you.
Why perfectionism in business is unhealthy
While calling yourself a perfectionist used to be a humble brag, now we know that perfectionism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be!
In fact, perfectionism at it’s root is an unhealthy coping mechanism. This is why:
- Perfectionism is rooted in fear. When you’re afraid of making mistakes, you stick to what is safe. You only take on something new when you know you can excel. You overdo everything for fear of making mistakes or being found out.
- Perfectionism is a cover up. Underlying true perfectionism is usually a sense of insecurity. You’re trying to prove yourself as worthy to your parents, your colleagues, society in general, or to yourself. You feel this inner drive to strive to appear “good enough.”
- Perfection is a myth. We think that by constantly striving, we can effort our way into being perfect. In fact, perfectionism is a purely unattainable goal. Sooner or later, you’ll make a mistake. Will you handle it with grace, taking it as a minor setback, or will you be crushed under its weight?
Why it’s important to let go of perfection in business
Being a perfectionist in your business can look like:
- Procrastinating on launching or “putting yourself out there” because you’re waiting for the perfect moment or perfect strategy
- Not taking any action because you’re so paralyzed about it being the right action
- Feeling so focused on what’s “not enough” that you don’t see opportunities in front of you.
Perfectionism is often a maladaptive coping strategy that can hinder us from a young age. If your “type” of perfectionism leads to obsession, anxiety, and procrastination… it’s not helping your business!
Letting go of perfectionism is (unfortunately) not a one-and-done event. It’s a process and doesn’t happen overnight. This is where mindset work with a trained coach can really help!
Be patient and kind with yourself as you develop new, more supportive habits and beliefs to replace your perfectionist tendencies.
Here are 10 ways to free yourself from perfectionism in business:
1. Take note of where perfection is holding you back. Perfectionism is a way of staying safe, a defense mechanism. Because you are always in your locus of control, you don’t put yourself out there, try new things, or take risks. You fear failure (or — even worse — appearing like a failure) so much that you stop trying. What is this costing you?
2. Accept responsibility. Realize that you are the one who puts the pressure on yourself. Even though many of us adapted perfectionism as a coping strategy, we are no longer coping with the same things as we did in the past. It takes bravery to practice radical acceptance of this concept and when you are able to accept responsibility, you can choose differently.
3. Practice self-compassion. Once you realize how much perfectionism has cost you, you might get down on yourself. Instead of feeling resentment or regret about the things you haven’t done, make a new start. Commit to trying the things you’ve dreamed about, even if (and especially if) they are outside your comfort zone. Forgive yourself for the past and make a new start.
4. Detach from rewards and recognition. As a perfectionist, you love to be recognized for your work. You enjoy receiving the reward, whether it’s a raise, pat on the back, or a verbal acknowledgment. But realize that you don’t need this type of recognition to be a worthy person. Start recognizing yourself as worthy. When the acceptance and love comes from within, you don’t need to keep seeking it outside yourself.
5. Accept yourself as you are today. As a perfectionist, you are constantly striving, never happy with your current results. We all have a tendency to succumb to the thinking, “I’ll be happy when______ happens,” whether it’s getting a full client roster, making 6 figures, or leaving your day job. The key is to practice gratitude for where you are now . Accept yourself as is — unfinished achievements and all — for who you are, not who you wish you were. Ironically, this is the key to growth!
6. Embrace your “failures.” Perfectionists tend to only embrace the successes. Once you are able to view your perceived failures as learning experiences, you can stop punishing yourself. Every mistake or misstep has a purpose, even if it’s purely to teach you that something is not for you. In fact, when you can practice detachment from the results, you’re on the path to true freedom!
7. Embrace mindfulness. Mindfulness means checking in with yourself and being aware of your thoughts. One way to tap into mindfulness is through meditation. Meditation allows you the unique opportunity to quiet your mind. You’ll sharpen your awareness of your thoughts without being so reactive to them. You can realize that you are so much greater than any perfectionist thought you might have.
8. Try experimenting and taking risks. If you’re struggling with perfectionism, you’re likely not taking that many risks! But business growth happens when you’re willing to take risks. Start by taking small risks. Find little ways to get outside your comfort zone. Go live in a small, private Facebook group. Publish your website and tell a friend. Email one person and ask for a referral. Courage is a muscle and you can strengthen it over time.
9. Look for joy in the process and not the outcome. If you’re waiting to experience perfection in your business, you’re wasting a lot of time! The goal is to enjoy the process of growing your business and be willing to experiment along the way. One way to experience more joy is celebrate the small wins in your business, rather than waiting until the big prize at the end.
10. Constantly remind yourself: You are enough. At the center of perfection is often a limiting belief, like: I’ll never be enough or I’m not good enough. It’s at the core of why we constantly strive to be perfect. We think that once we’re perfect, we’ll finally be able to accept ourselves. When you learn to uncover and release limiting beliefs, you can let go of the old thoughts that hold you back and start trusting yourself more in your business.
Perfectionism can hold you back in your business, if you let it
Perfectionism in your business doesn’t have to hold you back. You can consciously choose another way.
Coaching can help you address things like perfectionism, impostor syndrome, and self-doubt, so they don’t get in the way of your success in your business. If you want to learn more, sign up for a free consultation with me.