4 life-changing ways to create a better business mindset: for online creatives struggling with comparison, procrastination + people pleasing
Thinking about making big things happen in your creative business in 2019, like launching a podcast, creating a new service package, fleshing out that big idea you’ve been dreaming about for so long?
Do you struggle with overwhelm, comparison + other perfectionism-related mindset issues along the way?
Stick around, my friend, because I’m giving you 4 ways to grow your mindset in order to grow your creative business.
When I started Ditch Perfect, I created it for those online creatives who’ve been dreaming about launching their big ideas into the world but are held back by their perfectionism. Our inner perfectionist pressing pause in our big plans because *it* isn’t perfect yet or because “*she* is so much better at it than me”, we’ve all been there…
That’s why it’s so important to focus on the mindset side of running your creative business too.
While growing your knowledge + learning new skills about the tactical side of running a business - from setting up a mailing list to coding a website - is important, it’s mostly for nothing if you don’t know how to manage your perfectionism, your mindset + the emotional ups and downs of being an online creative.
In this mega blog post + in-depth guide I share more about perfectionism: what it is, how it affects your work and life + 4 short-term and 4 long-term strategies for overcoming perfectionism. It’s a great starting point for letting go of your perfectionism, so I recommend giving that post a read too.
But perfectionism doesn’t always show up as, well as… perfectionism. As this overwhelming need to perfect everything you do.
Sometimes, perfectionism shows up in a different way:
A bout of crippling comparisonitis
Being stranded in procrastination station
A need to please #allthepeople
A constant need for approval
In this blog post, we’re going to tackle the question of how to deal with these 4 perfectionism-related mindset issues, so that you can uplevel your mindset and grow your creative business.
Let’s get started.
4 perfectionism-related mindset issues + how to deal with them
/ 1 / Comparison
In our hyperconnected and digitalized world, most of us are glued to our computers, laptops + mobile devices. We spend hours and hours browsing websites, reading blogs + scrolling through our Instagram feeds.
Seeing nothing but perfectly curated Pinterest feeds and perfectly styled Instagram photos, it’s easy to get sucked into a pattern of creative comparison.
You *know* you’re looking at someone’s heavily edited highlight reel, but you still feel bad about your own less-than-perfect behind-the-scenes footage. It’s all too easy to compare to those people on the internet who seem to have made it + have it all together, and find yourself coming up short.
If you continue this for long enough, comparison can cripple your creativity and seriously diminish your motivation, both in work and life.
So, why is comparison toxic?
Have you ever noticed that comparison starts with someone else’s appearance of perfection and it ends with you feeling like you’re not good enough?
This is how the comparison trap works:
You make up a definition of what it means to be perfect
You apply that expectation on yourself
When you don’t meet that expectation, you doubt your abilities
If you see someone who you think is meeting that expectation, you start to critique yourself
You feel like a failure, like you’re not good enough
Wow, does that ring true for you or what?!
DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH OF COMPARISON
There *are* things you can do to deal with comparison when this happens and you’re in the middle of a toxic comparison shame storm.
/ 1 / Self-compassion
The first, big thing to do is to practice self-compassion. And by self-compassion I mean giving yourself some grace. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Comparison happens to the best of us.
Comparison has you feeling like you’re not good enough, but that isn’t true. You can choose to not listen to what comparison is whispering in your ear. I know that sounds easier said than done.
A great way to practice self-compassion is to find a creative outlet. It might be journaling. It might be painting or drawing or writing a story. Anything to get your feelings, thoughts, and emotions out + process your experiences. Whatever medium works for you.
The key here is to get those negative feelings out and then transform them through creativity.
/ 2 / Self-care
Self-care is key when you’re in the middle of a comparison shame storm.
Go out for a walk, exercise, get a mani-pedi, have a dance party, watch the latest on Netflix, eat chocolate cake (because chocolate makes everything better!).
Treat yourself and remind yourself that you are good enough.
/ 3 / Speak out
The third tip is to speak out. Any type of shame, and certainly the shame you feel after going on a comparison streak, can’t survive when it’s spoken out loud.
So, confide in a friend, have a conversation with a mentor, or share your imperfect moment in a Facebook group where you feel safe and supported.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AGAINST COMPARISON
The previous 3 tips are about dealing with comparison after the fact. After it’s already happened + the shame and fraudy feelings have settled in.
But here’s a question for you:
Comparison happens because of two things: being unfocused and not having a clear vision + not being clear on what your values are.
Let’s dig into the first one.
/ 1 / Being unfocused and not having a clear vision
The first thing that drives comparison is being unfocused and not having a clear vision.
When you’re thinking about perfection, you’re not living in reality. It’s easier to daydream about other people’s perfect picture and compare yourself to that picture than to show up for yourself and take action in *your* vision.
You invite comparison into your life when you look at what other people are doing and think they have it all figured out. Well, let me tell you my friend, they don’t.
Take off your perfectionism goggles and you’ll see that no one has it all figured out. Perfection is a myth. Perfection isn’t real.
Hard work, taking action, discipline, dedication, consistency… those things are real.
These questions might be helpful for you:
In what way can you focus your creative energy?
What do you want to see happen in your creative business?
What are some short term goals for your creative business?
And what’s is your long term vision?
Answering these questions will help you get clarity on what you find important. Spend some time figuring out the bigger purpose of your creative business and how your creativity plays a part in bringing your vision to life.
Now, you no longer need to look to others for a sense of direction. You’ve formulated your own destination. And hard work, consistency + discipline will take you there.
/ 2 / Not being clear on what your values are
The second thing that drives comparison is not being clear on what your values are.
You likely compare yourself to people that you feel are successful. They have a six-figure business, they have the cutest children, their work is published in major media outlets, their design work is flawless, they sell their work like crazy on Etsy, they take the best flatlay photos on Instagram… I could go on forever, because I’ve been there.
But I want you to ask yourself these questions:
What does success look like to you?
And what are your values when it comes to running your creative business + doing the work you do?
Maybe having a six-figure business isn’t that important to you. Maybe you value connecting with a small but loyal community on your blog over getting published on a bigger but impersonal website.
You’re comparing and measuring yourself to someone else’s measuring stick of success. It’s like entering a rat race and finding out that their finish line isn’t your idea of a finish line.
Once you get clear on what *your* values are, you’re less likely to get distracted by other people’s shiny trophy cups. It renders comparison futile.
That person you’re comparing yourself to has a different definition of success. Different values, different ideals, different motivation and goals.
Here’s a shocker: comparison isn’t bad.
That’s right, comparison isn’t bad. It’s a teacher and it can be an excellent teacher.
Stepping away from the comparison trap isn’t about turning comparison off, but about turning awareness on.
And the way to do that, whether comparison shows up in your life, creative endeavors, or business, is to get clarity about your vision and values.
ACTION ITEM: COMPARISON
My challenge to you is to get that clarity using the questions I asked earlier and, then, to let your vision and values guide you from now on moving forward in your creative business.
/ 2 / Procrastination
As a recovering perfectionist, one of the problems I ran into most in the early days of running my business is procrastination.
The perfectionist’s way of thinking is:
“Why start a project when I know I won’t be able to do it perfectly? Maybe I should wait a few months to get better at it first.”
“Nooooo, this project isn’t done yet and I can’t move on to the next thing, because there are so many details that aren’t perfect yet!”
I’m sure you recognize this.
Well, let’s dig a little deeper into procrastination.
3 TYPES OF PROCRASTINATION
There are 3 types of procrastination: procrastinating in the beginning, the end, or the middle of the creative process.
/ 1 / The beginning
If you’re the type of procrastinator that procrastinates in the beginning of a process or project, it means that you’re overwhelmed by the sheer scope of all the things you want to do and the endless list of tasks and to-do’s that need to get done.
You don’t know where to begin to get you started and you push tasks or projects off. You likely have a lot of dreams and ideas, but you fail to take action on them.
/ 2 / The end
Society glorifies end results. You’ve probably internalized all of those cultural messages about how great it is to finish the race + cross the finish line.
That creates pressure. And pressure leads to procrastination.
If you’re the type to fuss over tiny details trying to make it perfect, worried about what people will think + afraid to press publish or declare a project finished, then you’re likely the type of procrastinator that procrastinates at the end of a process or project.
/ 3 / The middle
The third type of procrastination is somewhat of a forgotten part when it comes to procrastination and that is the messy middle. The hard part between the “yeah, this is what I want to be doing!” and the pat on the back you receive when you finish a project.
Personally, I’m definitely this type of procrastinator. It’s the middle part of the creative process that’s hard for me, because the middle part is messy. The middle part is hard. It’s where the work gets done. It’s where difficult decisions need to be made. And for me, it’s oh so easy and alluring to shy away and not lean into the discomfort of that hard middle part.
Okay, over to you!
Which type of procrastinator are you? Do you procrastinate in the beginning or the end of project or are you more likely to procrastinate in the middle of a creative process?
Knowing this could make all the difference for you as you can foresee when the procrastination bug will strike and take precautions.
A heads up, it’s entirely possible that your procrastination type changes in different situations. You might be a productivity rockstar in your personal life, but when it comes to working with clients you’re the queen of procrastination. Or you might be rocking it on social media, but that big house renovation project doesn’t get done.
So, ask yourself…
ACTION ITEM: PROCRASTINATION
Which type of procrastinator are you?
Are you always this type of procrastinator?
Or do you switch it up under different circumstances?
HOW TO DEAL WITH PROCRASTINATION
Okay, now that we’ve identified which type of procrastinator you are + where in the creative process you’re likely to procrastinate, it’s time to dig into some strategies for dealing with procrastination.
Here’s what you can do when procrastination kicks in.
/ 1 / Self-awareness
The first step is self-awareness.
Where in your creative process are you likely to procrastinate? Is there one part that’s constantly holding you back?
For instance, you love creating videos but you hate mapping out the content. Or you easily come up with big ideas but you have no idea how to break those ideas down into manageable chunks.
It could also be that your creative process isn’t affected by procrastination, but other parts of your business or personal life are. So ask yourself this:
When are you procrastinating? Are there certain times of the day, week, or month when you get stuck?
Are there circumstances that lead to your procrastination? Perhaps when you work home alone?
And why are you procrastinating?
Ask yourself these questions and get real clear on the answers. Knowing what procrastination is costing you is an eye opener, I promise!
/ 2 / Let go of the fear of failure (or success)
One of the answers to the question of why you’re procrastinating could be that you’re afraid of failing miserably. You think you’re not good enough or question whether you have what it takes.
Or maybe you’re secretly afraid of success. You think “what will *that* say about me as a creative entrepreneur or mean for my business and the way I run it?’
What are some of the fears behind your procrastinating?
Think of these fears as your mind’s natural reaction to uncertainty. Being afraid doesn’t say anything about you. So, stop making perceived future failings mean something about you. Sometimes things don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
/ 3 / Let go of the idea of perfect
This tip speaks for itself. The thing to remember here is what matters most is not getting something done well, but getting something done at all.
You don't want it to be perfect, you want it to be finished.
ACTION ITEM: PROCRASTINATION
My challenge for you is to go through these 3 steps (self-awareness, letting go of fear + letting go of the idea of perfect) and reflect on the questions.
Whip out a journal or a notebook and become aware of how procrastination affects you and how perfectionism and a fear of failure triggers your habit of procrastination.
Are you tired of struggling with your need for constant perfection? Need a little help with overcoming your perfectionism, so that you can start making those big ideas you have for your creative business a reality? Then make sure to download my popular (not to mention FREE!) ‘4 steps to ditch perfect’ workbook.
/ 3 / People pleasing
The third perfectionism-related mindset issue we’re exploring is people pleasing.
You might be wondering: how do I know if I’m a people pleaser? And how does perfectionism factor into all of it?
Those are good questions. Let’s get it sorted out.
WHAT IS PEOPLE PLEASING?
If you’re a people pleaser, you might recognize this:
You find it hard to say no
You avoid conflict
You put other people’s needs before your own
You take care of others and feel guilty when you take care of yourself
You minimize your own feelings and needs
You compromise your values so that other people will like you
That’s painful to look at when it’s all written down like that, isn’t it? It is for me.
But remember, being a people pleaser isn’t an identifier. Don’t put that label on yourself. It doesn’t say anything about you as a person.
People pleasing is a behavioral pattern. It’s a series of behaviors, fueled by perfectionism, as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear, anxiety + uncertainty.
The most painful and saddest thing about people pleasing is that it means you don’t think very highly of yourself and your capabilities. It means you don’t think you’re good enough and that you’re only good enough if someone else says so. It means hustling for your worth.
And then perfectionism comes along and it lets you believe that, if only things are perfect, people will like you + you will never be criticized. So, you set out on this never-ending quest for perfection, which in reality is more of vicious cycle.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE PLEASING
Here’s how to break that vicious cycle.
/ 1 / It will never be perfect
Perfectionism is an illusion. It’s unattainable. It’s a hamster wheel in which you run in circles but never reach the finish line.
People pleasing sucks you deeper into a cycle of self-doubt + low self-esteem. And perfectionism is there to speed up that cycle.
But here’s the thing: just because you’ll never achieve perfection doesn’t mean nobody will ever like you or appreciate your efforts.
So, set up a digital reminder in your phone that says:
What I do is good enough, no matter what people say or think.
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/ 2 / You have no control over other people
Also, remember that you have no control over other people or their thoughts, perceptions, or responses. People will interpret what you do as *they* want to. They’ll react to what you do as they want to. If they want to criticize, they’ll criticize.
All *you* can do is to put yourself and your work out there. Remind yourself that how people react says a great deal more about them than about you.
Again, set up a reminder on your phone that says:
What people think of me says more about them than about me.
ACTION ITEM: PEOPLE PLEASING
It sucks to be criticized or made fun of or openly disliked. You don’t have to pretend otherwise.
Perfectionism and people pleasing are a tough cycle to break. It’s a pattern, a coping mechanism that you’ve probably used your entire life. That’s why I want you to start small.
This is my action step for you (I’m warning you… it miiiight be a weird one!): each day for a week I want you to make a conscious effort to disappoint someone.
It goes without saying, don’t be rude about it. Politeness and kindness are the way forward here.
But yeah, that’s right… go out there and practice disappointing someone.
Tell your waiter how you really feel about the food. Cancel the vague, half-baked plans you have with a friend because you’re actually too busy. Say no to an additional client project because you know it will drain your energy instead of fuel your creativity.
People pleasers tend to think that disappointing someone is like the end of the world for them, which causes anxiety. But once you get some experience with being the one to disappoint, you’ll see that for most people it’s hardly an end-of-the-world experience. Most people shrug and move on. A friend will gladly reschedule because, guess what, they’re busy too. And some people might actually thank you for your honest feedback.
/ 4 / Approval addiction
We’re onto the last perfectionism-related issue and approval addiction… is a big one.
Do you constantly make choices to avoid disapproval or criticism, instead of doing what’s most valuable or important to you?
Do you hold yourself back from speaking your opinions or hide your true self?
Do you spend far too much time on tasks in order to perfect them because you think this will make people appreciate you more?
This is classic approval addict behavior.
WHAT IS APPROVAL ADDICTION?
Approval addiction is mastering the art of telling people what they want to hear and being someone they find impressive — all the while worrying incessantly about what others think of you, fearing criticism + holding yourself back.
You can spend, or better said waste, your entire life seeking approval before realizing it’s a waste of time and it isn’t working anyway.
The good news? It’s possible to change this perfectionistic approval seeking behavior.
Your need for approval stems from this deep desire for others to love and approve of you and what you do. You desire this, because you have given away your power. You think you need others to love and approve of you in order to feel good about yourself.
You’ve placed these barriers, you’ve created these hurdles that you have to jump over in order to give yourself permission to feel worthy as a human being.
Is it any wonder that you procrastinate on your dreams? With so much at stake, it’s a small miracle you get anything done at all.
The biggest irony, however, is that approval-seeking behavior yields the exact opposite result.
Just think about the people you respect the most. Most likely, the strongest thing about them, the one thing that sets them apart, is their ability to stay true to who they are. They stand up for what they believe in + live by their own values.
Approval addiction is intended to get more approval and respect from others by any means necessary. But what people generally respect is a person who’s true to themselves.
HOW TO DEAL WITH APPROVAL ADDICTION
Approval addiction can hold you back in two different ways: low performance or high performance, as psychologists call it.
/ 1 / Low performance
When approval addiction leads to low performance it means that the need for approval negatively impacts your performance. You procrastinate, avoid doing important things, you feel anxiety and fear + you got stuck in worry and rumination.
Wanting people to like you results in you declining new opportunities, being too nervous to perform effectively + showing signs of withdrawal or giving up.
If this rings true for you, grab a journal or notebook and reflect on this:
How is the need for approval holding you back from doing the important things?
/ 2 / High performance
With high performance approval addiction shows up in an entirely different way.
You’re a high achiever and get great results in life, but it’s at the expense of everything else. The need for approval results in doing too much, trying to please everyone, not making time for yourself, working too hard + being unable to say no.
All in all, with high performance the need for approval negatively impacts your health.
If this is you, focus on this:
How is the need for approval causing you to do too much of random things instead of only the things that are important?
How is the need for approval causing you to do things for others at the expense of yourself?
One of the easiest ways to avoid approval seeking is to live a life that’s true to your own values. Your values are what makes you feel strong enough to go with what feels right for you. This way you’ll no longer feel the need to look to others to feel good enough about your choices.
Which leads to this action step for you…
ACTION ITEM: APPROVAL ADDICTION
Keep a daily journal and write down the things you’re most proud of about yourself: choices you’ve made, insights you’ve learned, things you like about yourself, times you’ve stayed true to yourself, or whatever comes up for you
Reflect on your language, self-talk, and behavior you’ve used or displayed throughout your day
Identify moments of approval addiction and moments of staying true to your values
Holy moly, that was a *lot* of information and action steps!
What I want you to do is this: pick the mindset issue that’s negatively affecting you or your creative business the most, whether it’s comparison, procrastination, people pleasing, or approval addiction, and start doing the work.
Don’t put this off. Not someday, but today. And if you need a little extra support and accountability along the way, I’m your girl.
You’ve got this, my sweet friend. I know tackling these mindset issues can be scary, but I know you have it in you to work through this + thrive in your creative business (and personal life too!).
If you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my “4 steps to ditch perfect” workbook, a step-by-step guide to tackling perfectionism and other perfectionism-related issues + start making big things happen in your creative business.
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS HOW THINGS ARE GOING FOR YOU. WHICH PERFECTIONISM-RELATED MINDSET ISSUE DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST?
Hey, Wendy here!
As a perfectionism coach, I help online creatives #ditchperfect, overcome their perfectionism + take action on the big ideas they have for their business. Let’s work together and make those ideas happen.