Is Your Perfectionism Your Greatest Strength or Weakness?

“I’m a perfectionist.

These words often get spluttered out in job interviews when you try to answer their question honestly, without leaving yourself looking awful.

It almost has a positive ring to it, doesn’t it?

I’m a perfectionist…

See?

You sound like you’re the ideal person to fill that role. The one who will work their butt off to get every tiny detail just right and make the company proud that they hired you. In fact, you’re the kind of person who they’d be crazy NOT to hire, right?

But if you’re a long-suffering perfectionist, you’ll know all too well that it’s not all sunshine and roses.

There are two sides to perfectionism: the positive and the negative.

The good stuff leaves you sounding like a highly ambitious superwoman who could move mountains if she wanted. Yay! 

Whilst the bad makes you out to be a nit-picking, nasty, cut-throat, ambitious nightmare of a person…

So which of these is it going to be?

Will your perfectionist tendencies lead you on a path to happiness, success and complete fulfilment?

Or will it keep you trapped, unfulfilled and scrabbling to make anything out of your life?

The positive side of perfectionism

Yes, perfectionism can definitely be a very positive character trait.

It means that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t just BELIEVE that perfection is possible but will move heaven and earth to make that perfection actually happen.

You’re the one with that amazing eye for detail, great energy, and the drive and motivation that will keep you pushing to achieve your dreams, whatever they might be. You’re hyper-organised and able to plan every detail down to the nth degree.

You’re the one who gets noticed. The one who gets promoted. The one who is driven to achieve epic stuff that leaves others astonished. Second-best is never an option for you.

And whenever things don’t go to plan, you’ll keep pushing forward, making those tiny adjustments that get you back onto the right course so you can get exactly where you need to go.

You’re even organised and efficient in both your home and in your business, having various routines, processes and habits on autopilot that help you forget about the dull stuff in life and focus on the important stuff.

Your perfectionism is a powerful tool that can help you achieve great things!

perfectionism can lead to burnout

But perfectionism can also be a huge problem

Having said that, your perfectionism does have a darker side. You have higher standards than most people.

This can be a wonderful thing. But your belief that everything can and should be 100% perfect can make your life tougher than it needs to be.

You’ll place greater demands on the world around you, and also on yourself.

You’ll find yourself slaving away for hours over work project just to get those minuscule details just right when most people won’t even care anyway.

You’ll never outsource anything because you believe that no one would ever do it like you. Besides, now isn’t the perfect time to start employing a team- you’re just not ready.

You’ll also find yourself trying to be everything to everyone- mother, entrepreneur, wife, daughter, chef, nurse, teacher, coach, mentor, accountant, star employee, athlete…

Yet you’ll feel like you never quite manage to do any of these things ‘perfectly’ because you just don’t have the time. Naturally, that leaves you feeling like a failure and fighting against time and energy.

Over time, you’ll isolate yourself from friends and family, you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture and those frown lines in your forehead will become more and more permanent.

You’ll push yourself closer to burnout, you’ll start feeling depressed and overwhelmed and even obsessed.

Does this sound familiar? 

 

 

The internal search for perfection…

Even though we usually think of ‘perfectionism’ as an outward habit, this search for the best can also have an impact inside of us too.

We want to be the best version of ourselves that we can be and don’t tolerate our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities or mistakes.

It becomes all too easy to compare ourselves to those successful, gorgeous, fit, attractive people we see on Instagram and Facebook whose lives seem so much closer to ‘perfection’ than ours.

We see photos of their gorgeous kids, lovely partners, beautiful lives, and lovely homes, feeling the green monster of envy grow inside with every scroll, feeling like failures if we don’t match up to these false ideals.

We’re also more vulnerable to ‘Imposter Syndrome’ when we compare ourselves to that unrealistic idea of ‘perfection’ that we have in our heads or that we see in front of us.

There’s no such thing as perfection!

The problem is, there’s no such thing as perfection.

It doesn’t exist.

You’re wasting both your time and your effort by trying to chase it. You can only ever feel bad about yourself.

You can only ever fail.

And so we often just give up before we’ve even got started. We don’t even give ourselves a chance.

We don’t allow ourselves to show even a trace of weakness, get vulnerable for a moment and try something new. We reject the whole idea of beginners’ mindset because we want to be perfect from day one.

We avoid taking risks, chasing opportunities and reaching out for fear of failure, fear of rejection.

perfectionism is bad

We don’t take that first step towards starting that business we’ve dreamed of for years and working to make it happen because we ‘just need to do a few more hours of research’ or we’re ‘not ready yet’.

We tell ourselves that we could never have a website as awesome as the other entrepreneurs we’ve seen.

Or we don’t know how to write a perfect sales pitch. Or we haven’t yet perfected the perfect coaching programme…

Perfectionism causes us to limit ourselves because we just don’t believe that we could do it, at least not to our own high standards.

Isn’t it better not to try at all than to try and fail?…

Overcoming perfectionism…

So what if we could have the best of both worlds?

What if we could combine all the positives of being perfectionists- the awesome organisation skills, the eye for detail and that inner drive we have to continually improve whilst also softening the negatives?

We could use our perfectionism to fuel ourselves to achieve our full potentials in life and work. We could make our dreams come true. We could take risks, live life to the full and never be afraid of failure.

Here’s how we can do that:

  1. Be good enough. It’s OK to take risks. It’s OK not to know everything. It’s OK to fail.
  1. Change the voice in your head. If you get that negative voice in your ear telling you that you’re not good enough, thank it for its advice but tell it that you’re not listening. Over time it will get quieter, I promise.
  1. Just do it! Getting started with a new project and taking risks is the hardest bit. If you listen to your perfectionist streak, you could just sit around procrastinating forever. So stop brooding and just strike out and do it. You can think of the finer details later.
  2. Be aware and change your habits. Notice when your perfectionist tendencies are trying to put in an appearance and ask yourself if you could soften them instead.

 

Yes, your perfectionism can be a strength and a blessing.

But if, and only if you can get it under control and make it work FOR you and not against you.

You’ll achieve amazing things, you’ll become more successful in life and your business and you’ll even surprise yourself.

How could you start using your perfectionism as fuel for success??

 

AUTHOR: CHARLOTTE WITTSCharlotte Witts Copywriter

Charlotte Witts is a writer, editor and entrepreneur who specialises in health, wellness and environment topics. Hire her here or follow her on Facebook. 

 

Yes, Self Care is Important When You’re a Wellness Entrepreneur

burnout

‘Self-care’ is just term dreamed up by hippies, yogis and other crunchy types who have zero business experience.

At least, that’s what I keep hearing from far too many many business owners and entrepreneurs on the circuit. Yes, even the wellness entrepreneurs who should really know better.

Their claim is that self-care is;

a) For wimps, and,

b) completely stupid to even consider because life as an entrepreneur is tough. Period.

They say that launching your own business and you’re sentencing yourself to a long slog and an altogether difficult life.

You’ll need to invest plenty of blood, sweat and tears into making your business a success and even then it might not even work. You could still find yourself broke, exhausted and broken…

Besides, they’re nothing like the 90% of entrepreneurs whose businesses fail within the first five years.

They’re pumped with motivation, determination is their middle name and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.

So you guess that those ‘experts’ must be right and throw yourself headfirst into your business,

You push yourself hard when you need to because that’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur, you stay up late, skip meals, cancel social activities and keep your nose to the grindstone.

Who cares about self-care, right?

Life as an entrepreneur can be tough…

Let’s be honest, those ‘experts’ are kind of right. From the moment you take that deep breath and decide to launch your own business, you’re facing an enormous challenge.

The biggest of which is yourself.

You need to overcome all that fear and uncertainty that comes from getting out of your comfort zone.

You need to believe in yourself and your own innate abilities so that you can start building the dream. You also need to be aware that it will take hard work, especially when you’re putting all the pieces into place like logo design, building your website and setting up your social media account, let alone the nuts and bolts of your business.

What makes it worse is that you’re pretty much constantly ‘on call’ thanks to smartphones and social media and you’re so keen to make it work that any spare time just gets sucked up by it all.

I’ve been there myself.

I started my wellness copywriting business when my energetic son was still a toddler AND I was finishing up my linguistics degree via distance learning, so all my time was spent either being mum, studying or working hard to build my business.

Whilst I didn’t skip meals because I ate whenever my son ate, I did find myself staying up far too late to meet project deadlines or complete assignments, answering work emails when I was supposed to be playing Playmobil with my son, cancelling social plans to get more work done and never EVER taking a day off. EVER.

For several years, I managed pretty well to juggle all these different roles.

I suppose I rode the initial wave of motivation, enthusiasm and a desire to give my son the greatest opportunities for the future. Large cups of strong, black coffee were my saviour and I just got used to the constant, mind-numbing feeling of fatigue.

burnout 2

 

Burnout

Before too long, I hit the point that’s the stuff of entrepreneur legend. Burnout. I guess I should have seen it coming…

It got to the point where I’d struggle even to get out of bed in the morning. I could barely muster enough energy for a conversation. I started suffering from all manner of niggling health problems including horrible skin flare-ups, mood swings, and an overwhelming urge to make. it. all. stop.

There was no way I could continue to grow my wellness business when I was feeling so utterly broken.

So I stopped.

I took myself away for a break to reassess the path I was on. Surely, life as a wellness entrepreneur wasn’t supposed to break you? What was I doing wrong?

It was during this time that I took a long hard look at my life and realised I wasn’t practising what I preached. It was time to make a big change.

I started listening to my body. I made nutrition my priority. I got really strict about bedtime, and I vowed that I’d take at least one day off every week.

It doesn’t sound like much, but, honestly, it made a world of difference to how I was feeling about my entire life, my productivity at work and even my relationship with my son. I became ME again.

I felt grounded, calm and ready to take on the world with my wellness business.

Sometimes we need to learn from experience, I guess!

sleep woman

You are your biggest business asset

I came away from this time of burnout with one main life lesson. Self-care really matters.

Because WE are the most important element in our business. It might sound really obvious to say, but it quite literally wouldn’t exist without us.

So if we’re really as determined to take our business from strength to strength as we say, and we’re passionate about allowing our dreams to grow, we need to make self care our priority. It needs to be right up there on our daily schedule with meetings, clients, business briefings, blogging, Facebook lives and everything else.

If we continue not to take care of ourselves, we’re harming our businesses.

We’re standing right there between ourselves and our dreams. It’s time we get out of our own way, give our bodies and minds the care they deserve and prioritize self-care.

yoga practice

“But I’m too busy for self-care…”

I hear you! Even though my son isn’t so young these days, I still have a million and one things going on so maintaining a healthy work-life balance is always going to be a challenge.

I also want to help my wellness business reach its full potential but I’m not the kind of parent to sit my son in front of the TV all day so I can get more work done. I want to be there and enjoy his childhood whilst it lasts. I also want to keep cooking healthy vegetarian and vegan food from scratch, to enjoy life, to see friends and to live my life to the full.

But here’s the thing. I CAN have all these things. It is completely possible to live an epic life and grow a business without hitting burnout, whether you’re crazily busy or you’re not.

As that old Zen saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.

Self-care will help you regain your calm. It will help boost your focus. It will rekindle that spark of enthusiasm and bring joy back into your life. Most importantly of all, it will help you get more productive, more creative and more successful.

Despite what you might think, it doesn’t need to take long. Everyone can fit in at least thirty minutes of self-care per day, even if that just means having a quiet cuppa and letting your mind wander, going for a quick run around the block or reading a good book.

This is how I take care of myself these days…

At this point, self-care might seem like an abstract idea, especially if you’ve been rushed off your feet for so long.

You’ll need to allow yourself some ‘downtime’ to consider how you could find more ‘me’ time, destress and wind down. Here’s how I do it.

1) I meditate daily.

Every day, just before bed, I meditate for 10 mins. This works wonders for my mental health and has given me so much more insight into my life and what I want for the future.

Everything makes more sense and is much more manageable with meditation, plus I feel calmer and much more confident.

If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, I’d highly recommend apps like Calm and Headspace to get started.

2) I make sure I’m getting enough sleep.

When you have deadlines looming and you’ve been unable to get as much done as you hoped (kids tend to do this!), it’s hard to get enough sleep.

However, it’s exactly at these times when you need it even more! I’m a big fan of sleep so I aim to be in bed at 10.30pm and get at least 8 hours per night.

3) I eat well.

I’m a secret wannabe nutritionist and a keen runner so diet is everything to me.

I never skip meals, I eat a healthy plant-based vegan diet, I fuel myself properly and I don’t eat processed foods or sugar. This helps to keep my energy levels balanced, maintain my focus and to keep me feeling at the top of my game.

If you think your diet could do with some improvement, I recommend you start by increasing your intake of plants.

Plants, plants and more plants!

4) I practice yoga.

Yoga helps me stretch out any knots, process the events of the day and sets me up for a great sleep.

Depending on where I am and whether or not I have an internet connection, this might mean watching a short yoga video on YouTube like the one below or listening to a short yoga podcast like this one.

4) I take at least one day off per week.

Ok…so I’m still working on this one…But I’ve promised myself I’ll try to give myself at least one day off per week.

We all need downtime and the brain space away from work where we can do other things and simply be.

5) I stop checking my phone.

When I’ve stopped work for the day, I make sure I stop looking at my phone and do my best to ignore those non-urgent work emails.

Sometimes I just leave my phone at home and just connect with where I am and who I’m with. It’s amazing!

6) I ask for help.

I’m the worst person at accepting help because I’m so used to being independent and in control.

But sometimes you just have to, for your own sanity and also to get things done.

So don’t be afraid to get a babysitter, hire a cleaner or even hire a writer (like me!) to help move your business forward whilst also maintaining your sanity.

To quickly conclude, it’s vital that you dedicate enough time to self-care every day, even if you think you’re motivated, energetic and unstoppable. Your business needs you to be at your happiest, healthiest best, and without adequate self-care, this is unlikely to happen.

 

Now I want to hear from you. Have you ever battled with overwhelm or reached burnout point? What did you do to get through without sacrificing your business?

AUTHOR: CHARLOTTE WITTSCharlotte Witts Copywriter

Charlotte Witts is a writer, editor and entrepreneur who specialises in health, wellness and environment topics.Hire her here or follow her on Facebook.