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3 Reasons to Ditch Perfection for Progress

by | Mar 21, 2022 | Mindset

I’m definitely a recovering perfectionist. In comparison to grade school, my handwriting today 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 perfectionism voluntarily. It was a forced byproduct of parenting three children. As a new mom, I wanted control – certainty that they’d be happy and healthy. As you can imagine, most times life didn’t go as planned. Which left this prior perfectionist disappointed. Until I realized: the more I accept, the less I expect, the happier I will be. Hello, freedom!

If you’re feeling frustrated or disappointed more days than not, get excited! You’re about to feel more joy by ditching perfect and allowing your messy middle to shine 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 (not my idea of fun!) As the achiever-type, perfect was my goal. Life was a test, and I wanted the A grade. So it’s no surprise that life made me feel frustrated and like a failure – not pleasant!

“Perfect is the lowest standard you can possibly have because it’s impossible to achieve.” – Tony Robbins

As I’ve learned from Tony Robbins, pain provides us with a few choices. For example, we often blame (usually ourselves) for not doing it perfectly, which never results in us feeling empowered. Instead, we could drop the blame game and decide to change either our approach or our expectations. For example, when I’m frustrated or feeling held back, I could choose to achieve my goals with Grace, allowing the power of flexibility to lead. Or for example, when I’m feeling like a failure, I could change my expectation – how I define success. What if success happens anytime I learn something or give something my all?

“Perfect is the lowest standard you can possibly have because it’s impossible to achieve.” – Tony Robbins

PERFECTION IS FEAR 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?” Like a deer in headlights, my face screamed, “I’m not ready!” Lovingly she replied, “You know your ducks are never going to be all in a row, right?”

“Perfection is just fear in high heels and a mink coat, pretending to be fancy.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

We often delay starting something (for example, a gluten-free or intermittent fasting lifestyle) because we fear the uncertainty of what it’ll bring. Instead of jumping into the unknown with both feet, we stand still, endlessly preparing, and never get started! This is the perfectionist’s dream, that ends in a nightmare. We want to know we can do it perfectly before getting started. Not gonna happen! As every Olympian athlete demonstrates, excellence results from thousands of messy completions.

“Perfection is just fear in high heels and a mink coat, pretending to be fancy.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

PERFECTION IS SELF-SABOTAGE

The perfectionist loves procrastination. There she feels safe, secure, comforted. So the perfectionist never gets started and creates her ultimate nightmare – sabotaging herself from getting what she wants.

Take me and social media, for example. For me, social media feels uncomfortable – consistently making myself visible? Recognizing my awesomeness? Yikes! I mean, what if I look stupid? Unintentionally offend someone? Dread.

Here’s the kicker. When you procrastinate about doing something good for you, or good for others, or can serve the greater good – you prevent yourself from growing and giving. Two main ingredients to create a happy, fulfilling life.

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you want to be your best self – not the lowest standard, scaredy-cat version, which prevents her from growing and giving to serve others. Yes or yes? Then it’s time to ditch perfection and pick up progress, otherwise known as your messy middle.

Here’s the kicker. When you procrastinate about doing something good for you, or good for others, or can serve the greater good – you prevent yourself from growing and giving. Two main ingredients to create a happy, fulfilling life.

ALLOW YOUR MESSY MIDDLE

American novelist and writing teacher Anne Lamott teaches how perfectionism kills creativity. She guides writers on how to bust through perfectionism with a “shitty first draft.” Of course, if you’re a perfectionist, embracing mess isn’t comfortable. I mean, where’s the control in that?!? But from one recovering perfectionist to another, allowing the mess to shine you forward feels freeing. Dare I say fun?

As the blemishes surface and the knots untangle, the reigns of daily frustration and disappointment release. I’m more joyful, more playful, and yes, way more fun to be around. When I run into fear, trying to hold me back by doing it perfectly, I remind myself that nobody connects well with perfect people. There’s nothing sticky there to attach us. Humans connect through their flaws, their scars, their failures. That bond brings comfort that we’re not alone. We are in this together, and all imperfectly perfect.

Remember to give yourself a lot of Grace as you ditch perfect, overcome perfectionism, and allow the thousands of messes to shine your way to greatness. It’s temporary pain for ultimate pleasure. After all, who really wants to be the lowest standard, allow fear to shackle their life, and sabotage their results? Any one of those has this Mama running fast and furiously away from perfect. I want to annihilate fear, bust it wide open, so I can shine me – free, imperfect, and lovable. I’m willing to withstand the temporary discomfort of uncertainty and mess. It’s the path to the ultimate pleasure of growing and giving – helping others in your highest form. I’m willing to get uncomfortable, especially as a parent. Maybe that was the Divine plan all along!

#WeAreInThisTogether for #HealthyChange

P.S. Wanna surround yourself with other imperfectly perfect souls? Claim your FREE spot in the Reset Tribe! Grow yourself through FREE training from wellness experts and meetups with your tribe (virtual and in-person.) You have nothing to lose but vibrant energy & confidence to live your soulFULL purpose (and some FREE goodies along the way!)

About the Author: Dr. Sue

Sue McCreadie, MD (aka Dr. Sue), is a 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.

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