5 Secrets to Overcome Perfection Paralysis and Anxiety

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You might already know you are a perfectionist. Your friends, family, and colleagues probably drop remarks about how you always need things to be perfect. And you believe its important to always strive for the highest level. Why shouldn’t you? Why do anything at all if you can’t do it one hundred percent! But you know your high standards are causing you to avoid getting things started, and you feel in the grips of perfection paralysis.

What is perfectionism?


Well according to dictionary.com, perfection is “a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.”


Its the unrelenting desire to always get things right at all costs, and this is where perfection can be so destructive. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. Neither are human beings. We are all prone to error and mistakes. It’s part of what makes this world so interesting and full of surprises.


Achieving perfection is… well, an unreasonable standard.


The problem is if we obsess about constantly getting things perfect, we will lose out on all the opportunities to grow, experience new things, and achieve success in new areas of our lives.


What is perfection paralysis?


When being a perfectionist consumes you to the point that you start avoiding all things that you can’t be perfect in, it can lead to what is called perfection paralysis.


No doubt perfection paralysis can affect you at some point in your life. Its often a combination of fear of failure and overwhelm at the task of learning something new.


For example:


You decide you want to start your own business in digital marketing. So you begin researching digital marketing and all the aspects of the field. As you read articles and watch videos about digital marketing you begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to learn. But instead of starting your venture, you put everything on hold. You feel you can’t start until you know everything… sound familiar?


And so your dream of starting your business stays a dream, and soon it becomes a forgotten dream. I have fallen into this cycle of perfection paralysis, so many times. But you need to break this pattern if you ever want to achieve your goals.


What are the symptoms of perfection paralysis?



Perfection paralysis might not be obvious to at first, but can manifest through our general behaviour.
If you are experiencing some of the below tell-tale symptoms you might very well be in the grips of perfection paralysis!


Four Symptoms of Perfection Paralysis:


Procrastination


Avoiding tasks or projects can be a big sign you are a perfectionist. And the reason that you are not starting is that you believe that you cannot do the task. Rather than just starting and figuring out what to do, you will rather avoid doing the task all together. You feel that if you cannot produce good, or acceptable work, you won’t start. And because of this, you do not meet the deadline as you have an unrealistic standard you have set for yourself.


Anxiety


Perfectionism and anxiety often go hand in hand. It is often fuelled by our focus on what you haven’t done. The more you focus on what you haven’t done the more anxious you get, and so you only make things worse in your mind. You might also be focusing on the past. And this is also wasted energy because the past does not create the future. By constantly focusing on the past we are taking away our focus on the present. It seems so simple, but yet we all do it. You become fixated on the past and so you become frozen and do nothing rather than risk making a mistake.


Shame


One of the biggest reasons you might be stuck in perfection paralysis is you may feel like a failure. You might have done nothing to justify the feeling, but you feel like a failure. And everything seems like an impossibility. Your shame for where you are is so overwhelming that you longer talk about your dreams and aspirations. You don’t believe you can achieve them any more. You are scared that when you put yourself out there, people will laugh if you fail, and diminish you for trying.


New Thing Averse


Shame can lead to you not trying new things. And if you never try new things, you will never learn new skills or experience new things. You will never grow. You will never know what you could have achieved if you just tried to do something you’ve never tried. And the more you avoid doing new things, the more you will avoid them. And this puts you in the perfection paralysis cycle. You will rather be “perfect” by never venturing out to try something new.


The above symptoms give you a good idea of what problems can occur when you try to be perfect. Most people only want to publish their wins to the world. Social media displays an unrealistic view of what others do to succeed. Its not always fact, but often exaggerated and fabricated.


No one gets it right all the time. Its impossible.
Its not reality. People mess up.


When you believe that everyone else is perfect and that you need to be too, you will fall into the perfection paralysis trap!


This leads to fear of failure and we never start.


The ensuing embarrassment, judgment, and vulnerability can lead us to not achieving our dreams and aspirations.


This can lead to you harming good relationships in your life because you no longer communicate your failures and challenges. And those around you will not understand what you are going through in your life.


The 5 secrets to overcoming perfection paralysis and procrastination.


To be honest, these aren’t really secrets, and probably already know them, but sometimes a you need a reminder to help get unstuck and start taking action!


1 Stop caring so much about what people think!


Everyone likes to feel successful, and we don’t like to fail. We seem to care what others think. And of course, it’s good to care about that, but not if your perfectionism is leading to negative situations.


The truth is they are so busy with their own lives and their problems, they don’t even notice! Right now, think about your best friends’ failures.


Does it make you want to stop being friends with them? Does it make them look like a failure in your eyes? Probably not, they are human like you (and they are trying their best).


2 Start by Lowering Your Standards!


Yes, I know this seems the exact opposite from what most people say, but to have a high standard, you need to start small. Most kids learn to ride a bike with training wheels first. It’s ok to make mistakes, everyone does.


Once you have started working on something, you can higher your target or standard. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Be realistic with your expectation and you’ll stop avoiding what you ultimately really want.


3 Break It Up into Small Parts.


Every big achievement is a sum of smaller achievements (with even more failures in between).
For example, if you are trying to write a blog, break it down into a list:


– Find a topic
– Decide on your keywords
– Research topic
– Write an outline
– Fill out the paragraphs one at a time
– Find images
– Have it checked
– Publish!


Perfectionism often is rooted in being overwhelmed by a task or project. To begin with, make sure that each piece of work is small enough and has a definite timeline to it. Once the time is up, you need to move on (come back later to fix it).


4 Get An Accountability Partner.


Find someone you know and trust and let them know what you are doing. Have them check in with you regularly. There will be a greater desire to achieve the goal as opposed to explaining to someone why you did not do it. This is a great way to break your cycle of perfection paralysis!


5 Create a Routine.


One of the ways of achieving big goals is commiting to doing something every day. When you see your goal as a step by step process you need to do every day, it will become easier to face.


Everyone is different, but I like to get my most important work done early in the day. I get up at the same time every day and follow my routine. This helps me keep my momentum going and get consistent results.


My basic routine


Morning: Exercise, Plan, get a quick win
Evening: Reflect and Reward


The rest of the day seems to flow after that. Routine becomes a habit and habits are easy. Small wins are important, they make you feel good about yourself.


And do not forget to reward yourself. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging what you’ve achieved! Rewarding yourself reminds you to stay present and enjoy the journey.


Each day, reflect on what worked, and what did not. Do more of what worked the next day. And keep the momentum going, when you see that you are progressing you will feel more motivated to do more.


Conclusion


The reason I wrote this post was that I was suffering from the same symptoms about writing my first blog. I spent 2 weeks researching!


And I could have probably researched this topic for another year and still not know how to do it perfectly!


It was scary to put myself out there.


What if no one reads this? (well, at least no one will see my mistakes!)


What if my spelling and grammar errors are picked up by the Google grammar police scrolling through my nonsense?


What if it gets terrible comments?


But what if someone reads this and gets themselves out of the “Perfection Paralysis Cycle”?


Well then it was all worth all the effort and worry!
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3 thoughts on “5 Secrets to Overcome Perfection Paralysis and Anxiety”

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