This one's for the perfectionists

When I tell people I've a recovering perfectionist, they often think I'm joking.

Oh, but I'm not. :-)

I've put a lot of years and effort into my recovery. Because my historical obsession with perfection nearly ruined my life. Not joking about that either. :-)

So when I saw this comment posted by Tana, it made complete sense to me:

"I am stuck. I am stuck with perfection. What if I do it wrong. Crazy I know, but I have a plan in my head, but can't put it to paper to make it pretty enough. I want to get past this."

So many of us want to get past "it" —the fears, anxiety, and mind loops that keep us stuck.

Obsession with perfection is about protection.

We want to protect ourselves from "failing" or "doing it wrong" or "messing it up." There are so many reasons for that, not the least of which is that we're instinctively hard-wired to avoid anything that might lead to us being rejected or looked down upon.

So Tana, it is not crazy. This is human stuff.

And we can absolutely learn to take the next right step anyhow.

We begin by choosing that next right step. What is that? It's the one you can do. 

I'll repeat: The next right step is the one you can do. 

It's the one small thing you can do that is in the direction of where you want to go.

If you choose a next right step that feels difficult, or like you need _______ to be able to do it, then Sweetheart—it's not your next right step.

Choose to take the next step you can do.

If you want to improve your fitness, but can't seem to actually get a workout done, the next right step might just be putting on your workout clothes. Or stretching. Or walking to the corner and back.

No next step is too small. It's simply the one that you can do. That moves you from paralysis by analysis to coloring in a swirl.

Once you've taken that next right step—again, by definition, it is one that you can actually do right now—you've overcome perfection. You: 1 Perfection: 0

That may be a tiny victory, but it is VICTORY. That's why every swirl you color is cause for celebration.

And I want you to know more celebrations. I want you to have more tiny victories. I want you to be taking those next right steps often enough that you start to feel the momentum of moving in the direction you want to go.

Why? Because I've felt it. I know how amazing it feels. How empowering. 

Now you're feeling it too. I love your stories—your tiny victories and big wins.

The world needs more of that. We all need more of that. 

And we don't have to tackle this perfection-stuff alone. I certainly didn't. Often, just even speaking the perfectionistic logic out loud to a kind listener loosens it's grip. Being able to keep your sense of humor about it helps too.

I know how much it takes to get on the other side of perfection. Just showing up takes courage. Showing up is enough to start. Being willing to get past this stuff is enough to start. I'll help you take it from there.

To a beautifully imperfect life!