Trying to ‘get it all done’ and finding it exhausting? There is a major difference between perfectionism and improvement. If you are trying to navigate a career transition along with everything else happening in your life in general, you may need to allow yourself to reflect on this one. 

As we head towards the end of the challenging and eventful year 2020 turned out to be, many of us are running low on energy, inspiration and general drive. Most of us may just try to get through the last few weeks, so we can start fresh in 2021.

In this space of lots of activities, I wanted to encourage you to check in on your relationship with perfectionism and improvement

I have struggled with this one myself, so I know it’s not easy to let go of the need for things to be perfect. In reality though, perfectionism is not a helpful pattern, nor does it invite other people to engage with you or want to help you.

What’s the difference?

Let’s quickly unpack this:

  • A common definition of Perfectionism: “refusal to accept any standard short of perfection
  • A common definition of Improvement: “a thing that makes something better or is better than something else“. 

Perfectionism focuses on an end state of something being perfect, when improvement focuses more on the process and milestones of making something better. It’s easy to feel like we are not enough or not doing enough, and that type of language and thinking comes from the ego. I find for me that these types of thoughts often come when I’m under pressure in a range of areas of my life, taking most of it on myself (‘if I do it, I know it will get done the way that I want it‘) and it’s wearing my energy thin. 

If this resonates with you and you’re focussing on it being perfect rather than good enough, I’d encourage you to ask yourself a few very basic questions:

  1. Is it realistic, helpful and healthy for me to do this? 
  2. Can I ask for help and allow others to help me with what I’m trying to get done?
  3. Am I clear on what the final outcome/milestone checkpoint I’m looking for here is?

I have had to practise this regularly and I’m getting better at letting go of the perfectionist within. Remember that your worthiness does not come from every little action you do, but by simply being who you are. What you do is not who you are.

When we stop chasing perfect and hustling for approval by ‘getting things right’, the exciting journey of improvement in our career and life in general can begin!