There’s an 8th deadly sin, I believe, that can be more sinister than the 7 familiar ones. It’s especially troublesome for people striving to improve in an area, like conversation or self-esteem.
What’s worse, most think of this sin as a virtue.
Are you falling victim to this common self-help sin? If so, it can paralyze you from making the progress you really want. In this post, I’ll expose this sin and suggest how to overcome it.
The Vice in Action
Yesterday I was working on a page for my website. Now, I’m no graphic designer, as you can probably tell from looking at my site. But I spent probably 2 hours too long trying to get that page just right.
The page would’ve been fine with much less work and worse is I could’ve spent that time more productively. For example, I could’ve created a new article for you to read and benefit from.
Y’see, a dangerous vice was in play while I worked on that page. Like many others, I fell victim to perfectionism.
Why Perfectionism is Bad
It’s funny, because many people would list perfectionism as a virtue. They wave it around smugly like a flag saying, “look how good I am.” But perfectionism paralyzes. It stalls.
For people wanting self-improvement and to be more social, perfectionism is an excuse.
We tell ourselves things like, “I’ll go up and try talking to new people once I’m completely comfortable with the process.”
Or we’ll say, “If I learned to be funnier I could make more friends.”
The problem is we usually never feel completely comfortable with the conversation process. We never accept that we’re worthy of friendship.
Bottom line: Because of perfectionism, we usually don’t get the things we want.
Perfectionism Isn’t Necessary
Inaction due to perfectionism is pointless because I can tell you right now, conversation is never perfect. It’s messy. People start and stop and hem and haw. There are silences. We search for ways to connect.
But you know what? The world keeps turning and people still have great conversations despite all that.
Your conversations don’t have to be perfect! You can connect with people and have positive interactions even with embryonic communication skills.
What’s more, YOU don’t have to be perfect. People will love you just as you are, believe it or not. It’s true.
I have a friend who’s crabby, anti-social, negative and not very ambitious. Do I still care about him? Of course I do and so do several others.
You don’t have to be a rock star or a world renowned physicist for people to appreciate you. You don’t have to be perfect.
Now I’m not saying you should just accept where you are and never strive for change. No, the drive to better ourselves is a hallmark of being human. But know that you can offer value to others and to the world just as you are. You’re loveable just as you are.
Get Some Action by Overcoming Perfectionism
I want you to say this next sentence out loud.
Good is Good Enough.
Say it again… That should be your mantra, especially when just beginning in something whether it be your ability at starting conversations, level of self-esteem or fitness routine.
This will at least get you DOING something because there’s less pressure. You can improve later, once you’ve gotten some actual experience. At first, action is most important.
Besides, once you have basic knowledge in any field, how much more important do you think hands-on experience is compared to learning the next step then the next to infinity? Infinitely more important because if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never make any progress.
The next time you find yourself stalling wanting this or that to be just right, stop and ask, “what action can I take right now to move in the direction of what I want.” Even if it’s a small step, like for example smiling at 5 people as you walk down the street, do it as soon as possible.
But make sure it’s a real action and not more preparation or study. Don’t search Google for more “best practices.” DO something.
What Do You Think?
What’s a recent example you’ve experienced of perfectionism stalling you out? What’s a next action you can take to move toward what you want? Post in the comments section below.