Perfectionism: Focused on Success or Failure

I need to talk to you.

I’m seeing way too many women in my life struggling with perfectionism, which is, in my opinion, is the ultimate self-defeating behavior and a great big party-pooper on your innovation, creativity, and success.

How does perfectionism show up in our spa business? Here's what I've noticed...

●     Openly calling yourself a failure, often veiling it in humor.

●     Saying “yes” to too many requests that don’t serve your vision & purpose.

●     Throwing in the towel on a marketing project because it doesn’t look perfect after the first try at copywriting & imagery.

●     Making any mistake or oversight and taking it personally, obsessing over what people must think of you now.

●     Procrastinating much-needed decisions/changes to their business until there’s a “better time” when it needs to be done asap.

●     Keeping yourself over-scheduled and frenetic in your personal and professional life as a (subconscious) distraction from the work that needs to be prioritized to grow the spa.

●     Being overly judgemental about others.

●     Keeping quiet about your fears in case you’re judged (ironic, huh?), even with the people in your circle of trust. Your mantra may be “vulnerability is to be avoided at all costs."

●     Thinking there’s “a moment of arrival” for success.

Knowing, watching and hearing women tightly wrapped in perfectionism makes me alternately want to weep with disbelief and shake them for believing it.

But I guess that would be the pot calling the kettle black. Feeling like I must display perfection at all times, at all costs just about did me in at one point.

Don’t get me wrong, I think striving for excellence is critical as an entrepreneur. But shifting into perfectionism strips away our ability to take calculated risks; to try a bold new growth tactic, to branch off into a new niche we've been itching to get into or, to hire your first staff member, as examples.

Let’s face it; there’s a lot of pressure to succeed. And this internal tension of perfectionism can often lead us to demand unrealistic expectation of our work and success.

I admittedly valued perfectionism for most of my 45 years on this planet (it was my super-fuel to power through my life successfully, don’t cha know) until the desire to live my best life forced my hand over and over again.

How did I take steps to heal this part of my personality that was holding me back from success in life & business? It certainly didn’t happen all at once. In fact, I learned the following lessons from The School of Hard Knocks over the past ten years or so.

●     I eventually saw my self-depreciating comments were fuelling my negativity and I was tired of feeling stressed.

●     I started saying “no” to more people (and relationships), so I could say “yes” to myself, my values, vision and time more often.

●     I realized it takes many reiterations of writing copy and designing images in my marketing to “get it right” (even then, it’s a work in progress!) so I give myself more time for the creative process.

●     I still f*ck up. But I got tired of worrying what people would think of me. I’m showing up and doing my best. A few years ago, I adopted Brene Brown's wise words to have only a handful of people in my life whose opinions I care about.

●     I finally saw procrastination was the only thing holding me back from hitting many of my goals. I specifically challenged myself to eat my frog's first thing in my day. It’s still not easy, but I’m fully aware some of my decisions will slow my success down.

●     I started to recognize my busy-ness was taking up valuable time I needed for focused action steps. How did I slow things down? Cut-throat prioritizing and saying “no” more often.

●     I discovered a pattern of criticism: the more I criticized others, the more critical I was of myself. For self-preservation, I consciously try to look at life from a more curious and compassionate place instead.

●     I was hit square between the eyes to challenge my views about vulnerability in my personal life many years ago. Without going into the dirty details, let’s just say I either had to accept I need to take off “my armour” within my circle of trust or continue to live my life as a stressed-out-control-freak. I remember the moment I made this decision (it was full-on ugly-crying and a full box of used Kleenex), and it’s allowed for some pretty magical personal & professional relationships to show up in my life. Author Brene Brown’s research and writing inspired me to honour my vulnerability wholeheartedly.

●     I watched successful women, like my business coach Lisa Larter, who were much farther ahead on their entrepreneurial path than I, continually stretch their business each year. It realized there is no such thing as “arriving” at success. We’re human and come with the inherent desire to want and create more in our lives. So I began to see success more as a game to play rather than a place arrive at.

Quote sourced from BreneBrown.com

Quote sourced from BreneBrown.com

I think it helps to understand human psychology and behavior when we’re feeling the creep of perfectionism; to understand we’re more alike than different and to use that concept as a jumping off point to manage the expectations we place on ourselves. Following authors like Brene Brown, Tara Morh, William Ury and Gay Hendrick on social media and immersing yourself in their writing and thought leadership are fantastic resources to help you transition out of perfectionism and adapt to a more productive style of spa entrepreneurship. 

“Adaptability is the characteristic that enables the species to survive—and if there's one thing perfectionism does, it rigidifies behavior.”

Psychology Today

Perfectionism can be a life-long struggle. However, I believe if we have the desire to be different, we can challenge our triggers (Is it true? Do I that for sure? What is this really about?) and decide to choose our reactions differently. When this happens, we can move past the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and embrace what's possible.

It's not easy. But nothing worth doing is.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? What do you feel you’ve missed out on in your business because of it? Let’s continue this conversation on my Facebook page!