Hey, you. Yeah you. Perfectionist! Aren’t you tired?
I have some breaking news. Are you sitting down?
You don’t have to be perfect (or give 100 percent effort) all the time. No siree. The truth is, sometimes good enough is good enough. And you can relax a little bit (or a lot a bit).
Perfection is an illusion because we are all human. We all have our flaws. Heck, even something like a weather report or a stock prediction is out of date the second it’s released. Because life is dynamic and fluid, nothing is fixed or final. (Let that sink in for a second!)
Here’s how to stop worrying about being perfect and still kick ass at work and life:
1. Don’t jump to judgment.
There’s no one more critical of you than you, not even mean Molly in marketing. And you don’t have to be so eager to put yourself down—as a parent, employee, entrepreneur, friend, yoga practitioner.
Because of the good old negativity bias, we tend to focus on what’s going wrong in our work and lives over what’s going right. So if we completed a 100-page PowerPoint presentation that was excellent (even standing-ovation-worthy!), but Molly points out one typo, we fixate on that.
Who cares? You’re still awesome.
2. Know perfectionism is a productivity nightmare.
“Done is better than perfect,” as they say. Sheryl Sandberg explains that she constantly gets loooonng emails from clients and colleagues that warrant loooonng responses in return. But, time-strapped as she is, she’ll often reply in one sentence because—hey, it’s done that way. Not perfect, but done. So take a page out of the productivity queen’s book and forgive yourself for doing the same thing when you need to.
I did this morning, as I stretched out a hair wash yet another day. Thirty minutes extra sleep was a way more important need today. And I’m presentable enough. Thank you, dry shampoo!
3. Question your thinking.
What is perfect, anyway? It’s so subjective. Who’s to say what the perfect weight, job, relationship, social media feed, or birthday party is? It’s up to you. It’s not what someone else does, has, or delivers. So, ask yourself, “What do I really want?” It’s probably less grandiose than you think.
For example, I was coaching a side hustler who kept putting more and more pressure on herself to earn upwards of $6,000 a month. She was meeting her goal, but it was never enough. I asked her, “What do you want the money for?” She said two things. First, to quit her job (she was already meeting her salary with her side hustle income, so that resignation letter was near).
I asked, “What else?” She said enough for a cleaner once a week and three to four vacations per year. She calculated she had more than enough for that too. But she never stopped to question her more, more, more mentality.
What are you overestimating that you need to do, be, or have? When you find out—oof! What a relief!
4. Enjoy the process.
Life is 99 percent journey. Yes, we have those great moments that memorably punctuate our joy—that promotion, new car, engagement, pregnancy news, whatever-it-is—but that lasts… well… a few seconds, really. We get used to it pretty fast. Then we buckle up for the next journey.
If you can learn to experience every moment as a constant unfolding of the gorgeous presence of your life, you can’t help but enjoy it. You’ll actually taste your food. You’ll laugh more. You’ll look at the sky and breathe. You’ll be easier on yourself about burning the chicken or paying the Visa bill a day late. It’s OK!
5. Don’t assume anyone else has it figured out.
They don’t. We’re all just doing our best. And no one is doing anything perfectly! I joke that if you know the perfect family, it just means you don’t actually know them well enough. It’s true. Try to find any perfect person. I bet you my life savings you won’t be able to.
We can strive for greatness and give ourselves a break, especially when we’re sick, tired, or busy. There’s tremendous freedom in sometimes accepting “good enough.”
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!