Overcoming Perfection paralysis – 5 ways to crush your inner critic
Reiki Business Coach and Founder of the RHA, Garry Malone, shares his advice for overcoming Perfection Paralysis
Perfection paralysis is probably an experience that we can all relate to. Have you ever been so worried about not doing something right, that you put off doing it all together? Or have you reviewed and reiterated an idea so many times in order to find a flawless execution, that you never actually saw the idea through? Do you have a tonne of unfinished social posts, blogs, new programmes or business ideas stuck in drafts because they weren’t 100% ready? Perfectionism is this inflexible all-or-nothing kind of attitude that can stifle progress in our Reiki businesses. For example, you haven’t got your logo perfect yet, so can’t launch your website, which means you can’t launch your programme, which means you can’t start showing up and talking to an audience of any kind. We have all these great ideas, but that little critic in our head likes to interrupt our progress and list out all the reasons why we shouldn’t hit publish!
As a retired perfectionist, I know what it’s like to feel completely immobilised by this desire to get everything just right before it’s released into the world. Entangled with this pursuit of perfection is a fear of failure and a fear to put ourselves out there. We get stuck in project limbo. We get tired and exhausted from all the overwhelm and nagging uncertainty of where to begin or what steps to take first, and as a result we usually end up quashing all the passion and creativity out of our latest bright idea or business plan. Perfectionism is one of an entrepreneur’s worst enemies.
Pin this for later! Helpful tips for overcoming crippling perfection paralysis
Whilst having high standards for ourselves and our work is a good thing, we shouldn’t strive to be perfect. It’s an unrealistic standard we set for ourselves, and it’s a major barrier to productivity and getting things done. We end up wasting too much time and energy trying to meet these expectations, so much so that we often find ourselves working long hours with very little to show for it. Hello burn-out!
So, how can we stop sabotaging ourselves and get out of our own way? Let’s look at some practical tips for overcoming perfectionism in your Reiki business.
1. Finding Clarity and Focus
I was recently working with a client who was very unhappy and frustrated with a website development project she was working on for her Reiki business. When I asked about the project and why she was doing it and if it aligned with her long term business goals, she said in hindsight she regretted starting the project in the first place, as it was a waste of time, money and energy and even if she completed the project it would continue to be a drain on her time and energy in the future for very little professional or financial reward. Unless we have crystal clear clarity about what we are trying to achieve in our Reiki practice we can easily get lost as solo entrepreneurs and become overwhelmed by non-essential projects. If you are not having fun and enjoying the work, then it’s okay to re-adjust the goal post and find projects that actually bring you joy. With clarity you can focus on the things that take you closer to your business goals.
If you have a project that you have been avoiding or procrastinating around, I invite you to take some time to pause, and ask yourself how you really feel about this task. Is it important to you? Is it purposeful to your business mission? Are you doing it because you think you have to or because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t? How would you feel if you actually finished it? Is it something that inspires you and perhaps you just need to overcome some manageable fears around the task, or does the idea, if you are really honest with yourself, actually just seem boring and unfulfilling? I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve completely trashed an idea and gone back to the drawing board only to find a much better way to approach a project! Getting rid of unnecessary things on your to-do list and focusing in on a few things that you really care about, is one way to start clearing a less cluttered path towards things you actually want to achieve.
Perfectionism Paralysis: Procrastination kills productivity
2. Done is better than perfect
This is one of my guiding mantras in business. It’s about focusing on getting things done and finished, instead of flawless, faultless or perfect. We need to lose the ‘go big or go home’ approach, and instead focus on progress, not perfection. I’m talking about breaking up big goals into smaller, doable milestones that you can tick off and celebrate, and working on small, bite-sized imperfect action each day. As you start crossing these bite-sized steps off your list, you will regain momentum and enthusiasm as suddenly the ‘doing’ part doesn’t seem so insurmountable.
The best way to honour and respect your deepest goals and ambitions is to create a series of small steps and only focus on achieving one step at a time. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to get overwhelmed and off-track. If you had to cross a river with just two boulders you would have to pick one up and place it in front of you, before you could hop off the one you’ve just put down. Step by step, and with a clear goal in sight, you can cross the river.
Likewise, every scary seemingly inapproachable task, can be broken down into easy and comfortable steps. A good tip is to start by mapping out the immediate next steps that you need to take, and then finding the mini milestones you can work to. Then, set yourself realistic deadlines for example ‘I can get this done in the next hour if I focus on only that.’
Perfection Paralysis: Create a Step-by-step plan
3. Getting comfortable with failure
If we avoid mistakes and failures at all costs, we put huge mental barriers in front of our goals and tasks. We let the fear of striking out, keep us from playing the game! But what if we reframed the concept of failure? What if failure was a way to capture priceless data and information?
If something doesn’t work out, then we have all this rich data to draw upon in the future to do better and get better results. We can cross a few ideas off our list (win), get a new, more informed perspective (win) and sharpen and refine our strategy to get closer towards our goals (win again).
The simple truth is that no great success was ever achieved without these little detours and temporary adjustments or ‘pivots’ as I like to call them. And when we start to accept that mistakes are a necessary part of the journey towards our greatest achievements in life, we open up this huge opportunity to learn and grow and become more flexible to alternative ways of how to do things.
4. Celebrate when you do cross the finish line
I think we are all too quick to jump on to the next project when we finally come to the end of something we have been working on. There is this pressure to keep working, but what about all the great stuff you just achieved?
We need to stop downplaying getting things done and celebrate the victories – the big, tiny and in-between moments, especially as a solo entrepreneur! This way we re-train our brains to anticipate rewards when we take imperfect action, and we start to look forward to finishing projects rather than dreading starting them. Having a good network of people who can celebrate your wins along the way is one great way to really mark these accomplishments.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others
In a world where everyone shares so much of their lives on social media, it’s easy to feel like we need to compare our own trajectory to the people we see as we scroll. Social media isn’t real life, it’s a highlight reel and it doesn’t show all the bits in-between. It shows all the glory and none of the graft, all the highs and none of the messy bits. Comparing ourselves to others is one of the quickest ways to get overwhelmed. Building a successful and sustainable business takes time and effort and anyone that tells you otherwise is not being honest. You are investing in your future and building a legacy – it’s not a race to the finish, there are going to be learning curves. It’s about creating a business that fits around your lifestyle and your unique definition of success and happiness. Trust the process and focus on your own journey and unique path.
Having high standards for yourself is a good thing, but nobody needs to be perfect, and if you wait until everything is perfect before you start, whatever you’re working on will never be finished. So, give yourself the gift of ‘done’ this year. Good intentions, a clear plan and consistent progress, no matter how small the steps, will always lead to success.
Tips for overcoming Perfection Paralysis
- Allow yourself to do something imperfectly. Let go of the all-or-nothing mindset.
- Commit to your goals, but don’t let failures define you.
- Make a mind-map to break big tasks into small chunks that you can put in order and then work through one by one.
- Each day write a new to-do list, let go of the tasks that didn’t get done yesterday and start afresh. Limit your new list to the top three most important things you want to accomplish for the day.
- Set realistic expectations and deadlines for yourself so you can actually hit your targets.
- Celebrate your victories and any progress made. Enjoy the process, not the outcome.
- Get help from a friend or mentor if you are stuck – asking for feedback is a great way to keep momentum. You don’t have to do everything on your own.
- Instead of comparing yourself to others, know your own worth.
Pin this for later! Helpful tips for overcoming crippling perfection paralysis
Are you a perfectionist? How do you bust through perfection paralysis? Share your experiences in the comment box below!
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Garry Malone, RMT, CMH, CHyp, MPNLP, Best-selling author, speaker, and the Founder of the Reiki Store, Reiki Healing Association and Reiki Business School. Garry’s mission is to help Reiki professionals build their dream Reiki practice by turning their passion for Reiki and helping others into a successful, profitable and sustainable business.