“Perfectionism and procrastination are a pair of ill-fitting shoes entrepreneurs should never wear.” ~Adalia
Perfectionism, one of the 3 Ps of self-sabotage, keeps many aspiring entrepreneurs from starting their entrepreneurial journey. And for some who muster the courage and confidence to become an entrepreneur, limiting beliefs, disguised as perfectionism, keep them from doing what’s necessary for their success.
The fear that something won’t be perfect leads to one of the other 3 Ps of self-sabotage: PROCRASTINATION.
Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing
I’m not going to join the crowd that says perfectionism is negative. Perfectionism in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Perfectionism becomes shrouded in negativism when your standard for what is perfect isn’t attainable you or anyone else.
Martha Stewart said that perfectionism helped her to create her empire. She used perfectionism to fuel her success. Was Martha Stewart a perfectionist or did she strive for excellence? Those who believe perfectionism is a “bad thing” will say she strived for excellence, or she was successful in spite of her perfectionism.
I believe perfectionism worked for Martha Stewart because what she believed to be perfect was clear and specific. She recognized it when she achieved it and accepted it as her desired outcome. Perfectionism wasn’t an excuse for Martha Stewart to remain stuck in her business. She didn’t use perfectionism to hide her fears, feelings of inadequacy, and lack of self-confidence. This mindset didn’t diminish her productivity, efficiency, or effectiveness. She planned and executed her ideas. And when it was perfect (as defined her) she let it go and moved on to something else.
Perfectionism is Subjective
What you think is perfect someone else might think is mediocre. Even those who proudly wear the badge “I’m a perfectionist” are living their own definition of what it means to be perfect. Have you ever said to someone, “It’s not perfect but it’s the best I could do”? Well, my friend, it’s perfect because that was the best you could do. You just need to believe and accept that it’s perfect. You create your own reality. It’s your own mindset that determines what is perfect and what isn’t.
Perfectionism isn’t an entrepreneur’s friend
Perfectionism stops many from venturing into the world of entrepreneurship because it’s never the right time. And it stops many from reaching their full potential as successful entrepreneurs. Why start (or finish) that project when it isn’t going to be good enough? Why bring an idea to life and run the risk of failure?
Are you a perfectionist?
Most of us don’t recognize that we are perfectionists. Here are some behaviors that say you’re wearing the perfectionist badge:
- You do it all yourself because you don’t believe anyone can live up to your expectations.
- You always have to be in control.
- You define yourself what you’ve accomplished.
- You’re a black and white thinker.
- Failure is never an option. You’ll avoid starting if you believe you’ll fail. You’ll avoid completion if you believe it will not be perfect.
- You are offended criticism, even when it is constructive.
- You live a guilt- and shame-based life.
- You take too many things personally.
- You spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get it right. You’ll lose sleep and ignore important deadlines and relationships in the quest for getting it right.
- You’re never happy with your accomplishments. You can always do it better.
- You procrastinate because it’s never the right time to start something.
- Most of the time your standards are so high no one can live up to them, not even you.
- You are your worst critic. You beat yourself up mentally, physically, and emotionally for insignificant mistakes.
- You put living on hold for the perfect experience. The perfect beginning. The perfect ending.
If your life is governed any of these behaviors, don’t despair. All change begins with awareness. Accepting that you need to overcome perfectionism is the beginning of you mastering your mindset for your success. You’ll have less stress and anxiety. You’ll eliminate this limiting belief, confidence destroyer, and success stopper from your life.
You’ll free your mind and begin to accept that DONE is better than PERFECT.
Here are five things you can do today to overcome perfectionism to live your entrepreneurial dream.
1. Use perfectionism to your favor.
If you’re still procrastinating about starting your entrepreneurial journey because it’s never the right time, decide what the perfect time looks like for you.
What is the perfect time for you to start your journey into entrepreneurship? Do you need to have 8 months’ living expenses saved before you take the leap into entrepreneurship? Do you want to work on your business a few hours every day until you reach a specific income before leaving your job, or do you just want to take a leap of faith? What is YOUR benchmark? Decide today, and look procrastination and perfectionism in the eyes and “just do it”.
“Perfectionism is often an excuse for procrastination” – Paul Graham
2. Be vulnerable
This is the age of transparency. You’ve got to be transparent to be a successful entrepreneur. To be transparent is to be vulnerable. Most of us run from vulnerability because we are afraid of being hurt, ridiculed, misunderstood, taken advantage of, or let down. We are afraid of being vulnerable because the mask of perfection we wear will fall off, and people will see us for who we really are and they might not like us. Humans want to be loved and accepted, and those who say they don’t are afraid of being vulnerable. Now, I’m not saying you should live your life seeking validation and love for you to feel complete; that isn’t vulnerability, that’s insecurity.
Vulnerability demands authenticity
Successful entrepreneurs allow themselves to be vulnerable, even if it’s uncomfortable. Their authenticity attracts customers/clients who identify and relate with them on a personal level. Authenticity builds trust and it makes it easier for people to do business with them.
You have to trust and believe in the process of entrepreneurship. Trusting makes you vulnerable. Risk-taking opens the door to new ideas and innovations. Taking risks makes you vulnerable. Perfectionism is adverse to risk-taking. Perfectionism stifles creativity. Vulnerability allows your creativity to prosper while perfectionism stifles it.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ~ Criss Jami
Reflect – are you being authentic in your words, actions, deeds, the clothes you wear, your marketing material, and everything else? Whose voice is guiding your reality—is it your own or someone else’s? Does this voice accept the authentic you, or does it want you to be the cookie cutter version of someone else?
Make a change – Be bold! Be you! Make a change to be the authentic you, even if it’s painful, even if it involves changing your business model, your marketing material, the clothes you wear, and anything else.
Take responsibility for your life and the outcome of your decisions – this frees you to be vulnerable because, no matter the outcome, you’re going to own it, not run from it. There’s no need to blame anyone or for you to feel shame or guilt.
Accept that not everyone is going to love you or want to do business with you. This removes the yoke of perfectionism and allows you to welcome vulnerability into your life. Because, at the end of the day, you are going to be okay. You are going to keep moving forward.
Build your self-confidence – confidence is one of my favorite topics (well, I am the confidence coach). Self-confidence renders limitations and lack of all kind irrelevant for your entrepreneurial success. Perfectionism is nurtured a lack mindset and self-confidence is nurtured a growth mindset. Perfectionists need to build their self-confidence and I discussed how you can build your self-confidence in my post “The 7 Cs of Entrepreneurial Success here.
“Vulnerability is the cornerstone of self-confidence.” ~ Brene’ Brown
3. Be flexible
Entrepreneurs who aren’t flexible won’t survive the rough terrains of entrepreneurship. You wanted the perfect website before you launched, but it didn’t happen … launch anyway. You wanted to have the perfect look … to lose those extra pounds before doing videos … do the videos anyway. There’ll be those who criticize you, but others will fall in love with your authenticity because they’re having the same insecurities, and you’ll inspire them to step out of the shadows in spite of not being “perfect.”
To be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take detours, to change your mind, to revise or modify your plans. You must be willing to start over. You have to be open to new ideas.
A flexible entrepreneur is a successful entrepreneur.
Reflect: Where in your business or personal life do you need to be flexible? Did it come to you? Great! Write them down. Now, think of the possibilities if you allowed flexibility to open the door to you achieving your goals. Don’t just think about it, do something about it TODAY. Write down the steps you’re going to take to be more flexible and follow through right away. Be flexible! Kick perfectionism to the curb.
“Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach.” ~ Tony Robbins
4. Stop making excuses
Perfectionism is just another excuse for not living the life you love personally and professionally. Perfectionism will deplete your confidence and zap your self-esteem. Perfectionism (except for those rare occasions where it helps some to excel) is used to cover up your feelings of self-doubt and not being worthy. Your subconscious mind uses perfectionism to keep you safe from failures. It uses perfectionism to help you avoid shame, criticism, and ridicule from others and your own negative self-talk.
Excuses be gone! Write down three things you’ve put off for one reason or another. List the excuses you’ve used to avoid taking action.
Change your thinking, change your life. Next to each item, write down one thing you can do TODAY to begin the process of achieving your result. Make a commitment to do something TODAY.
FREE yourself from the shackles of perfectionism and allow yourself to move forward to changing your life. You’re worthy!
“Strive for progress not perfection.” ~ Unknown
5. Accept failure as part of your success team
It’s quite simple really – when you truly accept failure as part of your success team, there’s absolutely no reason to use perfectionism to avoid failure. Make a conscious decision today to have lots of failures because you know they are going to open the door to your success.
I covered this topic in my post “The 3 Ps of entrepreneurial success”. Read about it here
“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person.” ~ Dr. David M. Burns
It’s a wrap
Procrastination and perfectionism are gigantic pot holes on your path to success. They negatively impact all those powerful traits that are important for an entrepreneur’s success: creativity, risk taking, courage, flexibility, persistence, self-confidence, and more.
Your entrepreneurial dreams matter! You matter!Free yourself from the chains of perfectionism so that you can run full speed ahead for your success.
It’s Your Turn
Do you believe that perfectionism helps or hinders success? How has perfectionism impacted your life?
If perfectionism is hindering your success – you’ll benefit from my FREE strategy session. Contact me today. You’ll be glad you did.
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