Tune into Episode 20 – perfectionism right here in your browser, find it on your favourite platform (head here for the links) or keep reading for a transcript.
Links mentioned in this episode:
The Inner Compass – 8 week online group coaching experience where we cover perfectionism (among so many other things!).
Episode 5 – learning to accept good enough
Hi, hello and welcome to this episode of the Rules Are Made Up.
I am so stoked you’re here.
Today I want to talk about perfectionism, good old perfectionism and I think we all know what it is but just to be clear when I talk about perfectionism, I pretty much mean that desire, that need to have to do everything flawlessly and to appear flawless as well like for others to not see our flaws and mistakes our faults.
And it shows up like not wanting to make mistakes, just doing everything in the right amount of time, the perfect amount of time and especially polishing something until it meets the definition of perfect that we have in our heads.
Personally, for me it shows up heaps in my business. When I’m writing content when I’m recording this podcast and doing it on the schedule that I came up with and all of it looking the way I imagined it in my head.
And that imagination often looks like recording it on a Sunday morning while Chewie, the puppy, is having a bit of a nap in a different room so that I can be undisturbed and I just record everything in one go and you know it’s all nicely done, I can schedule it, I get all of it done on my weekend work day so to speak and right now, if you can’t hear him let me tell you that the puppy is literally chewing on something right underneath my desk and I’m recording this on a Monday morning before my corporate work day. Not the usual time that I wanted to do it, but it is what it is.
My preference is that I get this recorded over doing it at the right time because chances are if I, you know, if I’d say I can’t, I can’t record a podcast on Monday morning, I can only ever do it on Sunday – I wouldn’t be recording one this week.
And to be fair, maybe that would be OK too, but I did want to talk about perfectionism, so here I am and getting it done and it won’t look polished or, it won’t sound polished ’cause you know someone making noise. He’s about to find a squeaky ball, so there will probably be some squeaky noises in the background, but [squeaky noise] – there we go – it is what it is, OK?
And the reason I actually recorded, I’m recording this today instead of yesterday is that I did something that I don’t do often, which is choosing rest over being productive or having to be productive.
If you don’t know me or if this is the first time you’re listening to this podcast, I am back at university part-time and I had a course that I’ve done this semester where I had an exam due, technically it’s due today, but we had all weekend to do it and could submit it whenever and I finished that yesterday and part of my brain was like “I don’t want to do anything else for the rest of the day, for the rest of this weekend, I’ve worked all weekend studying and I just wanted to relax and maybe read a book, maybe just watch some silly TV, but just not do anything” right.
The other part of my brain would not have it, like it did not like it one bit. It was like “well, you always do these things on a Sunday, you need to do them on a Sunday like who are you to not do them on a Sunday and to not follow your schedule” right.
But this podcast is called ‘The Rules Are Made Up’ for a bloody reason right?
I make them up most of the time, so I get to adjust them or one week not follow all of them and then be back to recording stuff on a Sunday, next week (or I guess this week). Right?
Nothing will fall apart because I’m recording this today instead of yesterday. And as much as I would love if you know anyone that’s already subscribed checks their apps for new episodes every Monday because I say there’s a new episode every Monday. To be honest, I don’t think we’re there yet, so the only person who thinks I have to release episodes today and like early in the morning is me.
Right, I’m recording it on a Monday, I can still release it later today, right? Doesn’t mean I have to release it tomorrow. I can still work on it in between meetings or during my lunch break and get it out later today, that’s fine.
The world will not hand nothing will be dramatically different if I release it at 2:00 PM instead of 7:00 AM. Right?
And so this was a lengthy example of how perfectionism shows up for me, but I wanted to touch on how it can show up for you, for other people and a big one that I’ve previously talked about is all or nothing thinking which is when you view most things as a binary or you know, like you have this idea of perfect, but there is nothing less than that. It’s either perfect or failure and anything less than perfect is a failure.
I’ve talked about this before and shared a tool to work on re framing that all or nothing thinking, the tool being that continuum meter in episode five of the podcast, and I’ll link to that episode in the show notes.
If you want a refresher or you haven’t listened to it before you can head there after listening to this episode and give the other one a listen.
Perfectionists also tend to be highly self-critical and we always expect to put in our best effort like we always want to give everything our best all the time, right? And when that doesn’t happen because it’s, it’s impossible to actually do that all the time, right?
But when our perceived best effort isn’t there, we judge ourselves? And ooooh do we judge ourselves harshly and along with that also comes that that fear of failure where instead of being OK with making mistakes and understanding that we can learn from making mistakes and from failing, we fear it.
Right, and we’re so, like we try and avoid making mistakes at all costs as opposed to just doing the thing, making mistakes and learning from it.
And that goes hand in hand with setting incredibly high standards for ourselves and coming up with rules that are impossible to follow all of the time.
Right now, just look at what I talked about earlier with me and this podcast in having to record it on certain days, right?
And if any of the above sound even just a little bit familiar, I want you to know you’re not alone, you are definitely not alone.
All of those things are true for me. And yes, I’m working on re framing it and being OK with less than perfect and accepting that I can’t be the best at everything I do. And that’s fucking hard, number one right and number two – just because I’m working on it and I know I say this in almost every episode, just because I’m working on it and I can recognize it faster, doesn’t mean it doesn’t still show up for me.
Right, just because I call myself a mindfulness coach and a mind management coach doesn’t mean I don’t have to work on managing my mind too.
Now let me illustrate this with another personal example relating to Uni, I got my marks back for a lab report that I had to write and the grade, the marks were in the B range, which is still pretty good, right?
I mean Cs get degrees and all that, but uh, Brange is pretty… – I can’t remember if it was flat out B, whatever it doesn’t even matter – because that is still pretty good overall and my overall grade average is pretty awesome still, which is the thing that matters most right at the end of the course, but my brain did not think a B was good enough.
And I was so bummed out for most of the day, I worked on re-framing it, I reminded myself that you know it’s OK and in the bigger picture it was part of my overall grade, like it wasn’t even the final thing. But my brain wouldn’t have it and I have so many tools, but even sometimes for me either they don’t work or I need to find and need to talk to someone about it and get someone elses perspective on it, which I did in the end.
And that brings me – great segue – that brings me to the last part of this episode, which is to help you figure out what you can do when you notice perfectionism showing up.
And the first thing which I kind of just touched on is getting perspective right, zooming out, looking at the bigger picture and asking yourself if you know being perfect today, in whatever moment, in whatever context that shows up for you, in that specific situation – is it really working for you?
And what I mean by that is, imagine – let’s put it differently.
Imagine yourself 6 or 12 months from now or five years from now, the time, length of time it doesn’t matter and look back on this specific day, the situation where you’re working on being absolutely perfecta and ask yourself with your five-year-from-now-hat on with your future-me- hat on, your future-self-hat on: what mattered the most? The thing you were working on being perfect? Or the thing that you worked on being done.
Right like to put it in an example with this podcast, in six months from now, the thing that matters is that this episode is out. Not that it’s perfect, no one will give a shit that I recorded it on a Monday morning instead of a Sunday. All that matters in the end is that it’s out. Not even, like I don’t even care that Chewie’s being a bit of a, a bit of a challenge, shall we say and has been making a lot of noise underneath the desk. You probably can’t even hear it, aside from when I, I’m telling you about it
What matters is that this episode is out there for someone to listen to and realize that they’re not alone with perfectionism and that there are ways to reframe those thoughts when they come up, that’s what matters.
The impact of what I’m doing matters. Not that it sounds perfect. Not that it’s polished as fuck.
OK, which brings me to another thing that you can try to do which is adjusting your standards and rules that you hold yourself to. And it sounds so easy to just say that, but it is fucking hard, right?
But what you can try to do, and this works for some people, it might not work for you, is to try and imagine that you’re talking to a friend or a loved one, and they’ve come to you with you know, the thing where they’re trying to be perfect. And just imagine what you would say to them, write it down, record yourself as if you talk… You know, like most apps or most phones, sorry, these days have voice memo apps or you know, ways that you can record yourself.
So if you don’t necessarily want to write and you just want stream of consciousness record yourself – do that.
And then listen back to it. Ask yourself who those rules really benefit – chances are, fucking no one, right?
And to be honest, I could probably talk about so many more things that you can try and do, and I didn’t even talk about the continuum meter because there’s a whole episode on that, that I again remind are linked to that is in the show notes because it’s really, really good one to workout your continuum meter for wherever perfectionism shows up for you.
But talking about a gazillion more or different tools (and there aren’t that many, I don’t even know if gazillion is a real thing) it would be doing you a disservice to be honest, because I don’t know you.
I don’t know your specific challenges and where perfectionism is showing up for you.
And what I’ve mentioned in this episode, might work great for you if you try it.
Or it’ll flop. I can only you know, I can give you some generic advice on this podcast, I can’t give you personal advice or personalized advice, that’s what coaching is for.
Which brings me to the thing that I can tell you is that perfectionism is one of the things we talk about inside The Inner Compass. Because it shows up for almost everyone in different ways and at different levels, but a lot of us have some perfectionist thoughts, which is why it’s something that we talk about inside The Inner Compass.
And if you like what’s The Inner Compass Neens?
Well, it’s my eight week group coaching experience and enrollment for that opens next week, at the time of recording this, or on the 21st of June, depending on when you’re listening to this.
I call it an experience because it’s part course, part group coaching but instead of telling you about all the things that you get it over the course of the eight weeks, I want to tell you a little bit more about what we’ll be working on inside that experience.
We start off with a primer or refresher, depending on where you are on self awareness and then move into working out what I call values and goals.
We do that first, because it gives us a solid foundation where we can then start to make tweaks as we move through identifying our thoughts and beliefs, including perfectionism and how they’re influencing our decisions and actions, ’cause as much as we think that our thoughts are separate and don’t influence us, they really do.
We have an experiment week because I believe strongly in trying things out, making mistakes (as scary as it is) and that’s why this is a group program so that you know you’re not going this journey alone, you’re not trying things out alone, you’re not making. You’re not the only one making mistakes because we all do. And then we finish off the program with a deep dive on habits and self-inquiry practices.
There are six group coaching calls and we have a chat community where you can ask questions and support each other throughout the entire time.
The link to The Inner Compass will of course be in the show notes as well, and there are a bunch of, there’s a bunch of information on there that you can go and check out, but if you have any questions as always, please reach out wherever we connected and I’ve talked for a while now, so I’m going to put this episode to a halt, to a stop.
But thank you for tuning in to this one, I really hope it was helpful and until next time.