A Unique Perspective on Taming Perfectionism

Done is better than perfect: A unique perspective on taming perfectionism.

I’ve been reading a book called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and something I read in that book resonated with me.

I thought I would share it with you because she has a unique perspective on taming perfectionism.

In the book, the author took a quote from Winston Churchill, and then spun it to creative living. There is actually so much that you could apply this to in everyday life.

The gist of it was that:

Done, not well, is better than not done.

How does that feel to you?

Obviously, there is going to be an exception to everything.  If you’re going to drive your car, or if you’re going to perform surgery, it’s better not to do it if you can’t do it well.

However, I’m talking about ways that you’re going to step out of your comfort zone, create, move towards what you desire, and maybe suck at it a little bit.

So how does it feel to look at it from the perspective of a job done, not well, is better than a job not done?

This doesn’t mean that you need to be sloppy all the time. But it means you don’t need to be frozen in perfectionism, either.

All Or Nothing Doesn’t Serve You

Because I coach women on how to train their bodies, how to feel good, and how to have vitality, perfectionism can be a real problem.  You can get caught up in an all or nothing approach which doesn’t serve you.

And it’s not sustainable, long term, because life is messy.

There are going to be times where your habits get more of your attention. Sometimes, they’re going to get a little bit less, and you have to ease up while finding a maintenance level that serves you.

It’s not going to be like the inspirational stories that you may see on social media where people are just slaying their goals. I mean, that’s great. There’s a time and a season for that. And there may not be.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say, you’re not feeling motivated this week, but you still want to do your training program. What if you gave yourself permission to really suck at it (without hurting yourself, obviously). Maybe you weren’t coordinated, or it wasn’t your best workout. Is that better than not doing it? I’d say so.

This can apply in other things, too.

I know women who were stepping out of their comfort zone creatively, because they finally felt safe and happy in their bodies, after releasing trauma to step out of their comfort zone to crawl out of that hole a little bit.

Let’s say you are writing, singing, dancing, painting, or doing anything that requires that you put yourself out there just a little bit. What if you gave yourself permission to just do a job that’s done? Not even done well.  Is that okay?

Is that better than not doing it at all – than not creating?

If it’s not going to have life-altering consequences if you don’t do it well, maybe give yourself permission to show up for yourself anyway – half assed, imperfect, sloppy, uncoordinated, unskilled, because you’re going to get better. 

How would it feel to look back and go, “I did that even though I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t think I was that good at it, but I didn’t let that stop me”?

I mean, if I were to stop everything that I would have done when I felt terrified, or that I was not good enough, uncoordinated, unskilled, unworthy, I wouldn’t have done much of anything. So what can you give yourself permission to do?

It’s Okay Not To Be Perfect

If we’re talking about training your body, moving your body, and making intentional steps towards feeling good in your body, is it better to begin imperfectly than to not do anything at all?

Maybe it’s boundaries.  You realize that you are over-giving, and it’s not sustainable.  It’s damaging your sense of wellbeing.

Maybe you start to create and express some boundaries with as much compassion as you can, given the situation and whether you choose to have this person or these people or this situation in your life – but knowing that it’s okay to not be perfect.

Can you give yourself permission to open your world up a bit, instead of shrinking it down, and  have a little bit of fun with it?

Here are some questions to reflect on:

  • What am I not doing?
  • What am I afraid to do?
  • What am I holding back on doing until I can do it perfectly?
  • Are there life altering consequences if I don’t do it perfectly?

If you do it, and not that well, is it okay? And is that going to be better than not doing it all?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

And let me know if you’ve read that book, Big Magic, or if there’s something else you’d like to hear, to help you release perfectionism, or at least tame it a little bit to help you move forward.

Remember, a job done, not well, is usually better than a job that’s not done at all or never attempted.

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