We live in a really fast-paced world.
…And that’s the understatement of the year, right? Obviously we live in a “fast-paced world.” It moves at lightning speed. We can start to feel like the only way to possibly get by would be suddenly developing superhuman abilities.
When we’re also bogged down by the idea of perfection—whether because we’re predisposed to perfectionism, we’re impacted by the many social media “life hack” posts and highlight reels out there, or some combination of both—getting anything done at all can be an enormous struggle.
The Myth of Perfection
When we struggle with perfectionism, we can find ourselves continually striving to do better and better. But what perfectionism most often leads to is anxiety, burnout, and avoidance.
Perfection is a mythical creature. No matter how hard society pushes us toward seeking it, we’ll never actually find it.
Because perfection doesn’t really exist.
A tough pill to swallow, maybe. But ultimately, it’s the truth—and a freeing one, if you dig deep enough. (Let’s do that!)
Perfectionism and Procrastination
Have you ever heard the term “analysis paralysis”? It means we’re so caught up in mental preparation for a task that we struggle to actually start doing the thing. It’s a common problem, and it’s one perfectionists are generally pretty familiar with.1
When we’re prone to perfectionism and expecting ourselves to do everything flawlessly, we might find ourselves waiting for the perfect moment, perfect plan, or perfect set of circumstances to occur before we take action.
But those things never seem to come… Because, again, perfect doesn’t exist. So what we really end up in is a cycle of waiting, holding ourselves back, and missing out on opportunities to learn and grow.
Procrastination has entered the chat.
The High Cost of Perfectionism and Procrastination
Perfectionism and procrastination come at a steep cost. Life is unpredictable, and conditions rarely, if ever, align perfectly. When we delay action, we deny ourselves the chance to learn, improve, move forward, and feel good about ourselves.
Instead, we trade those things for a cycle of what amounts to self-sabotage and a whole lot of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Perfectionism and procrastination often stem from a deep fear of failure. So in order to overcome them, we need to face that fear and embrace the thing we’re running away from: imperfection.
Embracing Imperfection, For the Win!
First, let’s acknowledge and do our best to accept that perfection isn’t an attainable goal.
“You can’t get there from here,” so to speak.
Because once we’ve accepted that reality, we can make space for different things—things like “good enough” or even “great,” “fulfilling” and “joyful,” among many others. If we can release our fear of failure and embrace imperfection, we can empower ourselves to move forward and finally begin to make strides toward our goals.
We can throw that party we’ve been dreaming of and see all of our loved ones in one place without having to worry about whether the house looks perfect.
We can put ourselves forward for that promotion because we can finally see through the fog of perfectionism and understand the impact of our real and significant contributions on our workplace.
And we can be spontaneous, silly, and adventurous with our kids because we no longer feel the pressure to spend all that time maintaining a perfectly organized home.
We Grow Through Our Imperfections
Women, especially, are at risk of perfectionism,2 and we get a lot of messages from the world around us to encourage that. But your worth is not tied to your ability to be flawless—and neither is anyone else’s.
Embracing our imperfections allows us to cultivate self-compassion and compassion for those in our life. We can build stronger, healthier, more fulfilling relationships with our loved ones and ourselves.
Ultimately, it’s through imperfection that we learn, grow, and build community. Embracing our imperfect journey is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.