Anxiety about being a perfectionist

3 May 2017

Do you suffer from Anxiety due to your desire to be perfect? Is being a perfectionist causing you to not get things done which just leads to more anxiety?

The other day I was working with a client in a coaching session that had completed 10 blog posts on her LinkedIn profile that by all accounts was great content yet she was not comfortable publishing them as she wanted them to be perfect. The questions I asked to find out if this was warranted were as follows:
  • Have you had someone check them for spelling and grammar errors (one of my own personal issues)? The answer was yes.
  • Do you think that the content is of value? The answer was that she had a friend read over them who was in the industry that the content was intended for and her friend said it was very good.
  • So my next question was, if the content is good and will be of value to people that read it and you think it will help your business how do you sleep at night by NOT giving the information to those who will benefit from it? This was a bit of shift for her so as that question was working its way to an answer I asked her "are you a perfectionist?" She smiled and said "well yes I do believe I am". It was at this point I rolled out my favourite line with our perfectionist.

"If you don't put it out there how will you ever improve so you can get to perfect?"

You see by not letting yourself get feedback to improve you will never be perfect. Accomplishment and success are a process. You need to not be afraid to put yourself out there in order to improve. As a perfectionist you have to get feedback in order to be perfect (I would suggest that perfection is a worthy goal but shouldn't be an obstruction), so by not publishing the articles you are not being a perfectionist.
What was interesting was that the real problem becomes apparent and that was that she had anxiety about what people might think so she wanted it to be perfect, however this was stopping her from putting her articles out for people to read and therefore get feedback and clients.

What is 100% for sure is that by holding back on tasks from being complete you are going to have more spinning plates and this burns up your energy and resources leading to anxiety.

So what do you do about this double bind, catch 22 about putting "it" out to get feedback vs being perfect? Well here are some steps.

  • Have someone who will be honest to give you feedback
  • Embrace feedback in whatever form to improve yourself
  • Understand that feedback is nothing personal, its feedback
  • You are given feedback be it in person or via no response at all, say thank you!
This will enable you to adapt to improve. My last point is that in order to get to your destination quickly, whatever that destination is you need to take action. Taking action is not thinking, writing it down or talking about it. Taking action is doing something that is tangible, tactile and real. This creates completion towards feedback to improve. Now if you have anxiety about improving then get really specific with the thinking, take baby steps forward, they might be small however they are small steps.
One of the tasking options I give all my clients now is a 3-month task of setting daily goals towards their 3-month goal, whatever goal that is. This helps them get really specific on a daily basis. It also forces them to focus on what they want to achieve on a daily basis.
This eliminates anxiety, creates movement and taking action on the task in the future.
I suggest you do the same, set a 12-month, 9-month, 6-month, and 3-month goal in one context – be it relationship, health and fitness or career and then set daily goals towards that 3 month goal; little action steps that move you towards the 3 month goal.
Now one way of making it real is to have someone hold you accountable, so if you are up for the challenge write your 3-month goal in the comments and like the Facebook post (link) here and we can all hold each other accountable.
What did I do with my client that was procrastinating on her LinkedIn blog post articles? I had her log in to her account and post one live! That's taking action. Watching her fear dissipate at the time it went live was very interesting: "now that was not so bad was it?"
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