Are you holding yourself to Impossible Standards?Jan 02, 2022
Is it possible you are holding yourself to an impossible standard?
A standard that exceeds what you expect from everyone else?
Most people - even those who don’t identify as perfectionists- have some perfectionism that seeps into their thinking.
It can feel literally dangerous to give yourself space or grace to get good at something, to make a mistake, or to even try something new.
Not sure if I'm talking to you? Well, have you ever thought…
- What would they think if I tried… and didn’t get it right?
- What would they say if I threw my heart over the bar and it didn’t turn out to be right?
- What if I do this and then after I’ve tried it for a while, I change my mind?
- I am so scared of making things worse I think it’s better for me to wait until….
Sound familiar? I thought so.
Wonder how I know? You aren’t the only one who fights it. There are more people like YOU than the people who aren’t perfectionists. Including me.
I’m in recovery from perfectionism. It’s something I work on ALL. THE. TIME.
I’m fascinated by the compulsion we have to be perfect when perfection doesn’t exist anywhere. I should know… I’ve tried to find it.
Two places I’ve looked for perfection - the great arts and nature.
In art and in nature you can’t find perfect. I mean, there’s symmetry, balance, and scale. But NOT perfectionism.
Consider the most well-loved art pieces in the world. Think Winged Victory, Mona Lisa, Water Lillies, Picnic in the Park, and artists like Serat or Pollock.
If you get up close and really look… they are not perfect. The sublime beauty is that LIFE isn’t perfect and the art that stands the test of time proves that. If artists strive for perfection - there is no nuance, no artistry, no shading, no shadow. Perfect visual art gets no traction because it’s boring.
Perfection in nature doesn’t exist either. Patterns, form, sequences, color, balance... yes. Perfection? NO. And it’s a good thing because that rose you stopped to smell in the summer couldn’t bloom if it had to wait to be perfect. And guess what? You can’t bloom either if you have to wait to be perfect.
I have a strategy I’m going to teach you that will help.
This strategy was developed by a business psychologist named Pat Pearson. I’ve tweaked it a little to make it my own and I invite you to do the same. This is going to be a GAME CHANGER for you.
Let’s dig in.
Perfectionists are exhausted. You have a list as long as your arm of things you need to do and the list never seems to get smaller. Right?
Here’s the reason. When you are in a perfectionistic mindset, it’s impossible for your brain to tell which tasks are important and which tasks aren’t… because you need to see a checkmark by every item on the list. You think they all need to get done. But that’s not actually true.
Not all of the things on your list are equally important.
Cleaning out the garage that’s been messy for a year is not as timely as making sure you pay the electric bill that’s due next week.
And sometimes, you fill your lists with all kinds of things as a way to avoid doing things that you feel overwhelmed by or scared of. Right?
But when you look at a list, your brain doesn’t care what’s important or timely. To our perfectionistic brains - we want all the boxes checked. Today.
That’s exhausting and leaves you feeling like you can’t gain traction on the things that ARE important. You feel hopeless. Overwhelmed. And unsuccessful. You start thinking terrible things about yourself.
So here’s where the system comes in. You are going to work with your brain exactly the way it is. Nothing is wrong with you. You aren't broken. You aren't weird. You are human. Let's work on a system that acknowledges you are human, ok?
Here’s what to do.
Create an ABCD system for your to-do list.
A - Must be done by you and must be done immediately (today or tomorrow)
B - Best done by you and needs to be done within the next few days
C - Delegate this someone - hire someone, trade with someone, or ask your family
D - Dump it OR Discern it. It’s NOT important to do right now and isn’t something that really matters. I can already hear you say, “but I'll forget to do it!!” I’ve got you covered. Stay with me.
Now start a NEW list by taking the 3 most important or timely tasks off of your A list. ONLY 3. That’s your list for today. You’re ONLY going to do the three things you took off of your A list.
If - and only if - you finish those three things, you can choose if you want to add more to today's list or not. I recommend NOT. You’ve done enough. You’ve done three things that really matter. Give yourself credit.
But Brenda, you might be saying, if it’s on the B list and I’m not doing the things on the D list, that means those things won’t ever happen!!
Ahhhh… but that’s the brilliance of this system. D stands for dump AND discernment. If there’s an item on the list that does need to eventually get done, put it on your brainstorm list. That’s right, I want you to keep a brainstorm list of all the things that pop into your head.
Then each day - organize that list into ABCD, crossing off what’s finished and pulling in new things from the brainstorm list. This way you don’t forget things, you are doing the most important things AND you’ll reduce your stress considerably because you won’t be trying to hold this all in your head.
Those B items you are worried about? Eventually, they will turn into A items because you are now being efficient with your time and your planning. They WILL get done. Or… they will move to the C or D list.
If you haven’t already, I invite you to take a look at my new free mini-course which teaches the ways using this system can help in every area of your life.
Then let me know how this system works for you. Email me or tag me on social!! I want to hear from you. Managing perfectionist thinking is something we can all benefit from, so please share this with someone you love.
All my love,