Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Congratulations! You're not perfect!

As I was doing more research on Perfectionism, I found this great quote that looks at the topic with a sense of humor.

And since being able to laugh ourselves is a wonderful way to combat Perfectionism, I wanted to share this quote with you. Enjoy! :-)

"Congratulations!  You're not perfect!  It's ridiculous to want to be perfect anyway.  But then, everybody's ridiculous sometimes, except perfect people.  

You know what perfect is?  Perfect is not eating or drinking or talking or moving a muscle or making even the teensiest mistake.  Perfect is never doing anything wrong - which means never doing anything at all.  Perfect is boring!  

So you're not perfect!  Wonderful!  Have fun!  Eat things that give you bad breath!  Trip over your own shoelaces!  Laugh!  Let somebody else laugh at you!  

Perfect people never do any of those things.  All they do is sit around and sip weak tea and think about how perfect they are.  But they're really not one-hundred-percent perfect anyway.  You should see them when they get the hiccups!  Phooey!  Who needs 'em?  

You can drink pickle juice and imitate gorillas and do silly dances and sing stupid songs and wear funny hats and be as imperfect as you please and still be a good person.  Good people are hard to find nowadays.  And they're a lot more fun than perfect people any day of the week. " 
 ~Stephen Manes  

If you would like to embrace your imperfections and be happier with yourself and your life, check out our  upcoming 5-week “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Want to be successful? Stop trying to be perfect.

We might understand that perfectionism does not make us happy, but we may still believe that it will make us successful. After all, we have all heard phrases like “No pain, no gain,” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It often seems like we have to go to extremes in order to become successful.

I certainly used to believe so and 10 years ago, I threw myself into my career, working long hours without breaks and sacrificing my personal life in the process. And while it did not bring me a lot of happiness, I was hoping that it would bring me success. If I suffered now, it would be worthwhile if I could be happy later, right?

The problem is that while perfectionism may propel us to perform some great feats (and there are certainly perfectionists who are successful), it is actually limiting.  In “The Pursuit of Perfect”, Tal Ben-Shahar provides 4 reasons while perfectionism can keep us from success.

1.    In order to learn and grow, we must fail. There are examples throughout history, including Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln, who have shown this to be true. However, perfectionists want to look good and appear flawless. So making mistakes and failing do not become an option, keeping them from reaching their full potential.

2.    Research in peak performance has shown that we perform best when we feel moderate excitement. But because perfectionists are so resistant to failure, they are often paralyzed by an intense fear and anxiety, which does not allow them to perform at their best.

3.    It takes many years of work to become an expert at something and then more effort to sustain success. It is very difficult for Perfectionists to sustain this kind of effort, because they are focused on the result (the destination) and are unable to enjoy the journey. Because they do not feel happy during the long journey, they often get overwhelmed by the strain and sacrifice of sustaining the effort, and are more likely to give up.

4.    Finally, the perfectionist has an all-or-nothing approach – if it’s not done perfectly, it is not worth doing.  This can lead to procrastination or paralysis, thinking “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.”  The result is a very inefficient use of time, and progress becomes much slower or is halted altogether.

Do any of these seem familiar to you? I recognize all of these symptoms, having lived through them myself. Learning to fail and make mistakes is something I have been practicing over the years, and it’s still something that’s not easy. I still notice when I am afraid to try something new or reach out, not wanting to get rejected.  But now I can choose to take some risks that I weren’t able to tolerate before. I still feel fear and anxiety in certain situations, but it is much less than before, since I am much more accepting of failure and mistakes. I am very familiar with procrastination as well, but telling myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect helps. And while I certainly burned out before in my corporate career with such an intense focus on the destination, I am now really focused on enjoying my daily journey in my coaching business, so I don’t fall into the same trap.

So while success does take some work, it does not mean sacrificing joy and happiness on the way there. If we are just willing to stop trying to be so perfect and accept detours and setbacks as natural, we can enjoy the journey as well as increase our chances of success. Let’s embrace imperfection! 

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  Check out her upcoming 5-week “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!