Perfectionism or Self-Sabotage?

For years, I struggled to begin my writing journey. I would write something I thought was good in the heat of passion, just to rewrite it again and again and again. My attempt to not settle for mediocre work meant I was not making any progress at all. This desire for my writing, font size, blog theme, color and everything else that (quite frankly) wasn’t relevant at all to be perfect kept me from taking that first step to accomplishing my dream.

Before now, if you asked me, I would proudly say “I am a perfectionist”. And this was basically my excuse for why I fail to make progress in anything. But isn’t that simply self-sabotage hiding under the cloak of perfectionism?

What I have learnt from my struggle with perfectionism and self-doubt is quite simple.

You do not have to be perfect to set out to accomplishing your goals.

In fact, you don’t have to be anything. All you need to do is take that first step, as imperfect and as unprepared as you may feel. Holding out for perfection is admirable, but doing so right at the start could lead to self-doubt and lots of second-guessing which is actually more damaging to your self-esteem and confidence than possible failure.

Think of it this way; giving it a shot even though you feel unprepared means you actually tried and have gained some experience, but constantly second-guessing yourself only leads to self-doubt which most often prevents us from even trying. I cannot begin to count the number of opportunities I’ve given up simply because I was too afraid of not meeting ‘imagined’ expectations to even try!

From my experience, self-doubt has killed many more dreams than failure ever will.

So how do we ensure we aren’t stuck in the quagmire of self-sabotage in our desire to awe our audience right at the door?

  • Embracing Mediocrity: Of course, nobody wants to be mediocre. And it’s perfectly understandable that we push ourselves to produce our best in order to prevent this. Not surprisingly, this same desire to accept only what we consider the best from ourselves often becomes a determent to making any move at all especially when we’re just starting out. You would be amazed at how much courage you can gain simply from accepting the prospect of being somewhere in the middle. This singular philosophy got me started on my goals, and once started I have no intention of staying in the middle!
  • Avoid being Judgemental: Yes, passion and some feelings are needed for just about anything you sincerely want to accomplish. But make sure to do without them when making your decisions. Most times, we are actually better than we think we are. Or possibly not. Either way, we need to take that first imperfect step first doing our best to be non-judgemental about the quality of our work then work our way to becoming better. Remember that perfection is relative. What seems wonderful to you may not be to the next person and vice versa, so do not let the need for perfection hold you back.

Greatness doesn’t just happen. It is built one little brick at a time. So, do the best you can right now!


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