Have a laugh.

Laugh at the things you didn’t quite get right.

Laugh with others about the things you didn’t quite get right.

Laugh at yourself for being so perfectionist and worrying about things so much.

Laugh and remember most of these are first world problems.

If all fails, laugh at the fact that you can’t laugh about these things.

I am nowhere near perfect and will never be perfect but I used to fret and worry about the little mistakes. I was sensitive to minor criticisms I would receive, even if everything was fine overall. It used up a lot of energy. Looking back, I could have used that energy to focus on the present.

For example… I would be presenting to a group and in the midst of presenting I would remember something I should have covered but forgot to. My mind wanders off to the fact that I forgot something and my inner voice would go wild, saying “you forgot an important point” “why do you keep forgetting?” “you’ve stuffed up again.” While all of this is going on, my attention would go off the present moment with the group, my words would get muddled up, I would lose my train of thought and not be responsive to the group.

Now I simply admit publicly that I forgot, have a laugh and move on. Most of the time.

Or… I would be writing an article and see what’s missing or criticise myself that I haven’t done enough research into the topic. Or I might receive a comment that challenges my writing. My inner voices would be saying that “it’s not good enough”, “you can’t publish that” and “you should have worked on it more”. All this energy would slow me down from actually improving the article and publishing it or writing the next one.

Now I try to have a laugh about what I missed or the fact that I procrastinated from publishing and hope I’ll do better next time.

So often we can get caught by these inner voices (see Have your inner voices taken over the driver’s seat?) such that our energy and attention are not where they need to be. Often, quieter professionals, being thinkers and reflectors, have these inner voices taking over the driver’s seat, causing them to not be their best selves.

Setting high standards can be a positive thing, to strive for excellence and improvement. However, perfectionism gets in the way of excellence. Will you join me and have a laugh at our perfectionist tendencies?