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Why perfectionism is hindering your success (and what to do about it)


The misconception that you have to be perfect to succeed is something we’ve been taught from childhood: if you get things “right,” you are rewarded, praised and validated. This can lead to developing an aversion or need to avoid being wrong and making mistakes for fear of invalidation or disapproval.

With fear of failure as a mindset, the notion of succeeding in business and life becomes more about the stress of not messing up rather than the joy of creation and exploration.

If you recognize symptoms of perfectionism in your approach to business and work, here are three dynamic ways to end the perfectionism cycle and exponentialize your ability to succeed:

Stop seeing mistakes and failures as wrong

What if you celebrated your mistakes and failures instead of trying to avoid them? Failures, when viewed without judgment or fear, provide us with new information and opportunities for the future that we otherwise would not have. Instead of seeing failure or mistakes as wrong, when they show up, ask, “What’s right about this?” What did you learn from it? What do you now know for the future that you didn’t before? What opportunity might this be presenting that you hadn’t considered?

If you didn’t judge your mistakes as failures, what possibility would they be? Start realizing that failure is a possibility, not a problem. When you don’t have to be afraid of failure or avoid it – you can be excited about it instead!

Reconnect with your big picture every day

A symptom of perfectionism is the need to fixate on every detail, such as micromanaging tasks and people, and getting distracted or bogged down in the “small stuff.” When you catch yourself going down this road, take a step back. Keep your attention on the big picture. Why did you start this career or business in the first place? What difference did you desire to create in the world with what you are doing? What would you actually like to achieve with your project or business venture? When you broaden your vision and reconnect with the big picture, it helps let go of the micro-controls and re-calibrate your approach.

Don’t be perfect – be aware!

Perfection is where you try to meet an ideal standard. In order to match your output with the standard you decided it should be, you waste time and energy judging and over-analyzing your efforts, rather than enjoying them and going on the adventure of seeing what your choices can create. When your focus is narrowed on your standards rather than your creative ability, you become blind to other information and opportunities, impeding the forward momentum of your business and projects. Be more like a cat in front of a mouse hole – the cat is paying attention to see when the mouse will come out but is still aware of everything around it and ready to leap up if something is coming from behind.

Develop a 360-degree awareness so you can deal with details without losing perspective. Each day, ask, “What does my business require of me today? Who can I talk to and where can I go to move this business, project or task forward? What else is possible I haven’t considered?”

Success is really a side effect of coming out of judgments, standards and expectations and allowing yourself the freedom to explore and go beyond perceived limits, beyond your comfort zone, and be greater than before. Even if you have spent your life perfecting the art of being a perfectionist – what if now is the time to unlearn those bad habits that are keeping from achieving a greater trajectory of success? Let go of perfection and begin enjoying the process of creating your business and life in ways you never thought possible.

About Susanna Mittermaier

Susanna Mittermaier, born in Vienna, Austria, is a psychologist educated at the University of Lund, Sweden, where she worked at the university hospital in the psychiatry department with psychotherapy and neuropsychological testing. She is the founder of Pragmatic Psychology and author of the #1 international bestselling book, “Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy.” Her latest book is called “Family Fairytale,” and she was recently featured in the book The Very Greatest Adventure…Is You Truly Being You. As a highly sought-after speaker, Susanna has been featured in Forbes, TV soap, Psychology Today, Women’s Weekly, Ooom, Wienerin, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand, Holistic Bliss and more. She offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology and is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices.

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