Perfectionism has been a topic we’ve been hearing about for ages, but these days it’s harder to ignore the neverending obsession with the optimization of the self.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest blocks to any kind of creative practice, quality work, or self-love process.
Perfectionism is a symptom of scarcity and fear perpetuated by misogynistic, white supremacist, ableist overculture.
It is procrastination, and procrastination is self-harm.
Once you see it for what it is, you can’t ever unsee it.
Internalization of other people's expectations derived from the draining cycle of short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops
AKA social media
will not create work you’re proud of, will not build safe spaces to share, or give you autonomy over your own time!
This is why an uncoupling process from perfectionist tendencies begins with stepping away from the smartphone. Seriously, please go touch grass instead.
If you have apprehension or fear about sharing your work publicly because it’s never “finished” or your ideas aren’t “good enough”—if you’ve ever felt othered because you’re unsure of where your voice can be heard—you may respond with overdrive to impress or correct, and/or to avoid or stall.
If you’re reading this thinking “no, my work/my voice is not perfect enough to count as perfectionism” — ahem! This is an example of negative self-talk sneakily making its way into your subconscious.
You’re probably well aware of your own perfectionism. You might already be working toward moving on from these patterns.
But how can you actually overcome perfectionism?
Here are 3 practical ways that work:
How To Overcome Perfectionism
1. Show Up For Yourself (and Trust The Process)
Remember that your entire life is a process, a becoming.
Our work reflects our continuous evolution.
What you are working on might not feel “right” the 1st time, or maybe even the 100th time.
There’s a reason why I made Many Moons 6 times. ;)
And there’s a reason why I run classes multiple times: I learn each time I teach and the work changes from there!
You can’t go deeper if you don’t start, and if you don’t keep going.
With a why. With motivation. With clarity that builds, the more you practice.
Through practice, practice, and more practice, the voice in your head that says your work is not enough or not ready yet will fade.
That’s because you’ll get into flow states, connect with your intuition, and let your life force, guides, and instincts lead the way.
Showing up for yourself is a habit that needs strengthening
Maybe you keep your work private for a while.
Maybe you start a Substack and tell no one for a few weeks, or months.
Building your channel of expression through practice is the perfect
(See what I did there?)
As long as you start, so long as you continue, you are showing up for yourself.
2. Change Your Perspective
Perspective is everything when establishing any kind of mindset change.
Updating your perspective looks like creating your own metrics of success: no longer holding yourself to the standards of others or the institutions and systems that were only built to extract and exhaust you.
At a certain point, you have to let go of what was never yours to open up to what truly is.
Think about perfection from a natural perspective. We don’t look at a rose and say, “Why isn’t that rose as red or as big as the other one?” We don’t look at a tree that has been struck by lightning, and has grown around the scar, and judge it. We revel at how it grew, how adaptive it was, and how unique it is.
My favorite definition of perfect is “complete.” It’s wholeness, not contortion. Ask yourself: What would make me feel complete, whole, or resolved around this project? Poem? Outfit? Day? What do I need in order to receive my own authentic versions of success?
3. Practice Accountability
Accountability helps you get unstuck and out of your head.
(Stagnancy and overthinking are two symptoms of perfectionism.) The non-negotiables we create for ourselves can change our lives. Practicing accountability starts with awareness. State a reasonable goal, and stick to it. Done is better than perfect.
The blocks that stop us from starting and sharing are not the immovable boulders we think they are — they are an illusion of perfectionism.
Once you’re aware of your fear, you can start to address it with short-term goals and get resourced. It can start as simply as creating a schedule for your desires and finding ways to reward yourself for your progress. You can also do reverse engineering: in the early days of my creative process, I’d give myself a weekend to make a zine. It didn’t matter what the final project was exactly: the prompt was to make something, anything, in 2 days that would end up in a particular form. That was a liberating way to work. If it calls to you, try it!
Accountability often needs to start publicly: that’s why due dates and a consistent publishing schedule can be so important when you are overcoming perfectionism. Every week, the studio shares something of value with folks. Every week, we know that people are excited and interested to read what we have to say, so, we show up. Some weeks, it’s easy. Other weeks, it’s hard, and we have less to give. But, we still show up with something of value.
Remember: less can be more.
Accountability is built in community. Finding a community of fellow creative, caring people, can help mute our own negative self-talk and inspire us to embrace our voice. Being with like-hearted folks with the same interests makes things easier.
If you're ready to clear away perfectionism and connect to your authentic audience, refine your voice, and practice a consistent creative habit, learn how to make money through your voice with ease: enroll in Clear Channels!