It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect - the Perfectionism Gremlin
The Perfectionism Gremlin is probably the biggest offender
Perfectionism is a curse - a self limiting belief that paralyze us and keep us from moving forward in our lives. Coaches often term these self limiting beliefs "gremlins". We all have gremlins that whisper in our ear. The Perfectionism Gremlin is probably the biggest offender.
Researchers are finding that the need to be perfect is a factor in those suffering from depression, eating disorders, hoarding and other obsessive compulsive behaviors. Perfectionism paralyzes and prevents meaningful living. It robs us of our self confidence, our relationships with others and our personal happiness. It can even ruin our health.
It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect!
So why do we suffer from Perfectionism?
Some aspect of it may be inherited or due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. But much of it is nurture, not nature. As children, our society has ingrained in us the idea that we must be perfect. We must be perfectly athletic, perfectly beautiful, perfectly academic, perfectly put together in every way. Magazines and TV ads reinforce this belief. Our schools reinforce this too. How are we supposed to feel when our child doesn't make the "gifted and talented" group in the third grade? Failures, of course.
I remember with sadness when my son, in the 7th grade, made it to our State Spelling Bee Championship. We were so proud. But when it came time to have a photo of the attendees for the Newspaper, the reporter told my son and others to step aside because he only wanted to photograph the "winners". Never mind my son had "won" a place in the finals. Only winners counted. I witnessed the same thing on the soccer and baseball field when my kids were in high school. Everybody was hot shot. So much for team spirit.
So here we are with anorexia, teen suicide, depression, hoarding on the rise and no wonder. Now, as a Professional Organizer and Coach, I am helping my clients overcome what has been ingrained in them since childhood. Their notion that they have to be perfect, nothing else will do, is paralyzing them. My goal is to help them to uncover and honor their unique abilities. They have gifts and talents unlike anyone else with plenty of power inside them to succeed.
Starting with the basics, this is what you need to know. Everybody's got gremlins and they are big fat liars. Here are some of the things that gremlins whisper in our ear.
Who do you think you are? That will never work. You are too old to begin something new. What will people say? It has to be perfect or don't bother to do it. Don't send it until its perfect Don't submit it until its perfect Don't publish it until it's perfect
Sound familiar? What's the pattern here? The pattern is that you have to be perfect to get anything done. You have to be perfectly smart, pretty, and young and organized to accomplish anything. Lies all lies. The truth is that nobody is perfect. The real truth is, nothing is ever perfect. The truth is that perfectionism is the biggest killer of good ideas, paralyzer of lives and businesses and the biggest gremlin of all. So what say we throw the Perfectionism Gremlin out?
The Five Little P's and How They Grew
Gosh, what a cute title for a children's book! This story, however, doesn't have a happy ending - no riding off into the sunset on a white horse or living happily ever after in the arms of a prince. Instead, this is the story of how Perfectionism ruins lives.
Stage 1: Perfectionism
It has to be perfect. I'm I'm not perfect, I am a failure. What will people think of me? I'll be so ashamed. If I don't get it all done perfectly and all at once, it will never happen. Then the phone rings, or some unexpected event happens and that day you planned to "get it all done - and perfectly" is gone. You have failed. Better try again some other time.
Stage 2: Procrastination
So, the project gets delayed- put on the back burner until the perfect opportunity arrives. Other issues or projects take over in the meantime. Forgotten and delayed, your important project festers and stews until it becomes urgent. Now it is an emergency. Welcome to Stage 3
Stage 3: Prioritization
You have left it too long. The trouble is, you've left a lot of things too long - procrastination becomes a bad habit - and you don't know what to tackle first.
Stage 4: Panic
Overwhelmed and ashamed, you are afraid to ask for help. It's all so embarrassing! What a mess. Certainly isn't perfect. Someone will find out your dirty little secret - you are not perfect.
Stage 5: Paralysis
You are stuck. You can't do it. You are clueless as to where to begin or how to fix it. You may just give up or you may decide that you have to let somebody help you.
Here's the inside psychology on the Perfectionism Gremlin
It's all in your head. It doesn't have to be perfect. JUST MAKE IT BETTER. Nobody is perfect. As the famous greeting card lady with the red hat likes to say: Get over it! If you take any large project, break it down into segments and attack just one segment a day, you will have made it better. Perhaps you can take a small segment of a segment. Start and see how much more confident you feel. It's OK to fail forward. Be courageous and do your best. You'll learn what works and what doesn't. That's real success. Resolve not to be a procrastinator. You now understand where that road takes you.
The Perfectionism Gremlin isn't going to give up. It's been whispering in your ear all your life. It even got your parents, teachers and bosses to help. "Practice makes perfect", "If you can't do something well, don't do it at all."Only winners count." "Never be a loser". It's going to try over and over again to lead you down the path to paralysis. Now you know it just has to be better. You have given yourself permission to fail forward. True success is knowing what works and what doesn't and that only happens when you ignore that Perfectionism Gremlin and take a chance.
About the Author
Marilyn Ellis is known as "America's Organizer Coach". As an author, speaker, professional organizer and certified life coach, she loves helping people navigate through their busy and challenging lives.
To learn more about Marilyn, please visit her website at http://www.lighthouseorganizers.com or call 1-866-379-6440.