I’m definitely a recovering perfectionist. My handwriting today, in comparison to grade school, might give you a clue! My third-grade teacher granted me free time during cursive lessons, and now my family claims they can’t read what I write (maybe they don’t want to!)
I didn’t give up my perfectionism easily. It was a byproduct of becoming a parent. Three children within five years created such craziness! Ultimately, I decided the more I accept, and the less I expect, the happier I will be.
If you’re feeling frustrated or disappointed more days than not, get excited! You’re about to feel more joy on your health journey by ditching perfection for progress and embracing your messy middle more every day.
PERFECTION IS THE LOWEST STANDARD
Every mentor I can remember drilled “practice makes perfect’ into my subconscious. Riding a bike as a child. Hitting a golf ball in high school. Doing a circumcision as a pediatric resident (even though I avoided them as much as possible!)
As the achiever-type, perfect was my goal. No surprise: frustration and feeling like a failure hit me down pretty much daily! Through Tony Robbins and his emotional mastery teachings, I’ve learned a couple of things about perfection.
In Tony’s words, “Perfect is the lowest standard you can possibly have because it’s impossible to achieve.” That makes this goal-oriented girl run as fast and far away from perfection as possible. He also helped me reframe frustration and feeling like a failure into empowering statements that bring me back to joy. For example, when I’m frustrated or feeling held-back, that means I need to change my approach to achieving my goal and be more flexible.
So, I choose to achieve my goals with Grace. Or when I’m feeling like a failure, that means I need to change my expectation or deadline. So, I succeed anytime I learn something or give something my all.
PERFECTION IS PROCRASTINATION IN DISGUISE
When I was getting close to opening my pediatric practice, I met my sister at P.F. Chang’s for lunch. Over those famous Chang Lettuce Wraps, she popped the question. “When are you going to start seeing patients?” I didn’t answer, but my face said it all: “I’m not quite ready…yet.” She smiled, “You know your ducks are never going to be all in a row, right?”
As bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Perfection is just fear in high heels and a mink coat, pretending to be fancy.” We often delay starting something (for example, a new way of eating or trying intermittent fasting) because we’re scared. Instead of fessing up to our fear and jumping in with both feet, we stand still, endlessly preparing, and never get started!
PROCRASTINATION IS SELF-SABOTAGE
Until recently, I procrastinated engaging consistently on social media. I didn’t want to make myself visible or recognize my awesomeness. I feared looking stupid and doing stuff I’ve never done. Unfortunately, procrastination holds you back and prevents you from doing what you want to do. For me, that’s impacting as many lives as possible.
If you’re reading this, my guess is that you want to be your best self – not the lowest standard or scaredy-cat version of yourself. If you’re a “heck yeah!” to that, then ditch perfection for progress and embrace your messy middle.
As bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Perfection is just fear in high heels and a mink coat, pretending to be fancy.”
JUST DO YOUR MESSY MIDDLE
American novelist and writing teacher Anne Lamott teaches how perfectionism kills creativity and how to bust through it with a “shitty first draft.” You just have to get started wherever you are and embrace your messy middle. That’s not only true for writing but for doing whatever you want in life (like eating for your genetics, hint, hint!)
If you’re a perfectionist, embracing mess isn’t easy. But from one recovering perfectionist to another, it’s absolutely liberating and way more fun! Jumping in and doing my messy middle every day frees me from the reigns of frustration and disappointment. I’m more joyful, more playful, and way more fun to be around. When I stumble back into trying to do “it” perfectly, I remind myself to embrace the mess. If you haven’t already, ditch perfection for progress and embrace your messy middle wherever you are on your health journey.
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About the Author: Dr. Sue
Sue McCreadie, MD (aka Dr. Sue), is a board-certified pediatric physician and wellness expert with two decades of experience helping thousands of families achieve vibrant health. In her pediatric practice, Dr. Sue helps children adapt their diet and lifestyle to optimize their genetics for health naturally. Online Dr. Sue helps other women learn how to eat for their genetics and use a nutritional system to feel confident with energy to live their best life. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, Dave, and their three children, Kaitlin, Elle, and Addison.