We all made mistakes in life whether it’s been years or maybe as recent as an hour ago. It’s the human condition to miss the mark. It’s impossible not to. But being able to let go is the goal. It may be the hardest and most powerful thing you will ever do.
Resilience is flexible. It’s not rigid. It’s able to sway back and forth. Resilience doesn’t have a spirit of perfection anywhere near it. To hold ourselves to a standard of never making a mistake is holding ourselves to a standard of perfection, which is not only impossible but will also make you miserable in the end.
I can honestly say that one of the biggest roadblocks that kept me from being a resilient person was my perfectionism.
Perfectionism will consistently cause you to feel like a failure because there is no such thing. We were never made to be perfect; we were made to be excellent.
And there is a big difference between the two.
Excellence is a spirit in which you do something. It has more to do with the motivation and attitude in which you do something, rather than the end result. Perfection is intolerance for anything that is not in perfect form.
Perfection starts inside you and eventually works its way out and around you, influencing people, places, and things with which you associate. Excellence is doing whatever it is you do in such a way that it raises the standard without condemnation or judgment of others.
For example, I have a friend who I love and value very much, and she has become very wealthy over the past several years. It seems her level of expectation of others has gone up with her net worth. We were out to dinner a few years ago, and the level of perfection in which she held the wait staff and the restaurant seemed very unusual. Her inability to see any reason for flaws or mistakes was bordering on a level of perfectionism that I could tell wasn’t making her happier.
And when you go about life this way, it ends up slowly eroding your ability to enjoy it. It also keeps you from having a clear perspective on what reality is because it seems that you’re living below the line at all times. All of a sudden it takes “out of this world experiences” in order for you to find satisfaction in everyday life.
The pursuit of excellence will require hard work and a diligent attitude, but if done wisely, it will be pursued by God’s strength not our own.
Below are some tips to help you cope with perfectionism:
- Become aware of your negative self-dialogue. Harsh and critical self-assessments reinforce perfectionism and procrastination.
- Practice self-compassion. When we are compassionate with ourselves, our fear of failure is not exaggerated. Mistakes are understood as being a natural and normal part of learning and life.
- Take the time to examine whether your goals and expectations are attainable. If they are not, give yourself permission to change them.
- Break goals down into smaller steps
Remember, our life is a journey, and one that regardless of ideal circumstances and scenarios, is a journey where we will mess-up and make mistakes.
So rather than beating yourself up about it, how about instead choose to learn from the mess-ups and mistakes and decide that you are going to be better because of it.
I promise, it makes the journey way more enjoyable.
Let me know where you are in your perfection vs excellence process. I’d love to hear from you.