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  • by Eli and Joseph

3 Ways To Deal With Perfectionism

Take it from one of us (you get to decide which one) purfectionism prfectionism, aahhh! PER-FEC-TION-ISM can be more constrictive than a jail cell.

Though on the outside perfectionism seems like a redeeming quality - everything nice and neat and tidy and, well, perfect - on the inside it generates lovely side effects like: anxiety, lack of sleep, worry, heartburn, stress. Shall we go on?

Not to mention driving those around us a little bit batty with our very own, delicious obsession to make everything JUST PERFECT!

If you suffer from even a tinge of this quality, we hope these three ways to deal with perfectionism will bring you a sense of relief and peace of mind.

And hopefully, you'll slowly be willing to let some of that perfectionism go.

Does this happen to you?

You get an idea to create something new — a piece of art, a decorating project, a special dish, throw a party, design a website, whatever. And before you know it (typically within seconds) that familiar feeling begins to take over and you start to talk yourself out of it.

You might imagine dozens of reasons why it's not going to work out:

I don´t have the right _________________ (whatever)

I don't have enough _________________ (money, time, resources, knowledge, creativity, intellect, bandwidth, experience...)

I can't go out looking like this.

It's already been done before.

I'm really not creative enough.

What if nobody wants to come?

I'm (still) not quite ready yet.

Maybe I'll do it tomorrow.

And within seconds, that's it. You're done. Out of the game. Talked yourself out of it. You give up, before even starting, because you don't want to fail, look foolish or less than.

It happens to many of us! Somewhere in the back of our mind, we believe that a) we need all the perfect conditions to exist so that we can b) create the perfect thing.

Image credit: savvy psychologist

And when the perfect conditions and the perfect thing don't happen?

Then most likely you'll reach for a distraction (your phone, FB, a drink, the nearest shiny object) and convince yourself that tomorrow it'll be easier. Tomorrow you'll be better prepared. Tomorrow you'll have less resistance.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

And all of that, completely on autopilot. Unaware of the thought process going on in our subconscious mind, striving for perfection, that's actually keeping us small. Or tired. Or both.

It's exhausting! And, completely non-productive.

What if, instead of trying to do things perfectly and letting that old resistance beat you, you tried a different approach? Below are three ways to deal with perfectionism. We encourage you to explore these simple yet powerful tools and see if they make a difference.

1. Notice.

Because most of us are on autopilot, we might fail to notice how much we're paralyzed by perfectionism and the resistance that shows up in our lives because of it. So the first step is just notice. Pay attention to how often you talk yourself out of a dream.

And this is vital: Please don't judge yourself for having this resistance. How? Simply respond to that awareness with 'oh, that's interesting' in reaction to your thoughts, which immediately neutralizes the judgement.

"I should go write a chapter in my novel... but, nobody bought my last book, so why bother? Oh, that's interesting..."

"I wanna paint the bathroom, but I really don't know what color I like, or what kind of paint to get.... Oh, that's interesting..."

"I'm going to get a part time job so I can finally get rid of my credit card debt and start my own business... Really? Do you have any idea how long that'll take? What do you know about starting a business? Plus, the self-employment taxes will kill you... Oh, that's interesting..."

It's just a thought. You don't need to give it power. You don't need to know every step. You can trust yourself to figure it out as you go.

"Oh, that's interesting" is just a way to notice, without judgement. Giving you the opportunity to make a different choice.

2. Lighten up.

If there's one gift that we could share with you, it's this: lighten up, baby! You're much more likely to create change in your life, take Action, follow your dreams, have motivation, make a connection and share yourself and your vision with the world if you stop beating yourself up for not doing things perfectly.

This one tool is a total game-changer.

When we beat ourselves up, it causes constriction, which leads to shutting down, which spirals down to... well, to not taking chances, pursuing our dreams, taking risks, yada yada yada.

And the opposite is this:

When you lighten up, you're much more likely to laugh at your mis-steps, learn from them, be willing to keep going, share your experiences with friends instead of shaming yourself and hiding away, and create a vibration in your body and your environment of levity, ease and openness.

How priceless is that, right?

3. Do It Anyway.

This one is inspired by master teacher and new-thought leader Mel Robbins who shares that dozens of times a day there are things that she doesn't want to do. She doesn't want to write a book with her severe A.D.D amid all the distractions of career, kids, a cluttered desk and acute anxiety.

"Do it anyway" she tells herself.

And then?

She sits down to write the book.

And you can do that, too.

Do it anyway. Even if you don't know everything about it. Even if it comes out less than perfect.

Notice that there's hesitancy, a feeling of wanting to back away, shut down, talk yourself out of your dream. Then treat yourself to some good ol' fashioned levity and do it anyway. Yes?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


And here's a BONUS:

In our parallel career as interior designers, perfectionism is highly valued. Clients love it. And our commitment to great service often demands it. We're really good at what we do, and the validation in the form of client satisfaction (and great money) can trigger a desire to keep doing it.

But, at what cost? Lots of frustrations dealing with artisans, sub-contractors, vendors; sleepless nights trying to make things perfect.

That, dear friends, is a recipe for inner disaster: stress, anxiety, heartburn... all the things we mentioned above.

The answer?

WABI SABI! The Japanese aesthetic world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection!

Who knew?

So, aim for one degree under perfection, commonly called: excellence. Do the best you can, with some allowances for imperfections.

Next time you find yourself obsessing about doing it right and getting it perfect, give yourself a break and say out-loud: Wabi Sabi! And feel proud of doing an excellent job.

Excellent is good enough!


There are dozens of ways to deal with perfectionism. But we wanted to keep things simple and not overwhelm you. So, we kept it to three very doable tools (and your Wabi Sabi Bonus!)

Hope this makes a difference for you perfectionists out there!

Now, PLEASE SHARE WITH US: have you discovered favorite ways to keep perfectionism at bay? We'd love love to hear what you have to say! Let us know in the COMMENTS BELOW.

And, don't worry, whatever you say doesn't have to be perfect.

We'll love you no matter what;)

As always, thanks for reading!

With Nearly Perfect Love,

Eli + Joseph

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