How I stop letting perfectionism hold me back by The Fourth House Co.
Hi friends, Wendy here! Welcome to Ditch Perfect’s Client + Community Stories series. My mission with Ditch Perfect is to help online creatives let go of their perfectionism + take action on their big creative ideas.
I’ve personally learned so much from other people's perfectionist stories + that’s why I’m sharing these powerful stories right here on the blog. Reading about personal experiences is a powerful thing + I believe there’s so much you can learn from these stories and insights too.
Today, I’m very grateful to share Ashleigh Keith from thefourthhouse.co ‘s perfectionist story. Over to you Ashleigh!
IN WHAT WAY DOES PERFECTIONISM SHOW UP IN YOUR LIFE?
Perfectionism has been rearing its ugly head in my life since I can remember. I remember having hard conversations with my mother in high school about my need to be perfect and my hatred for mistakes. I was an overzealous overachiever that did not take mistakes or missteps well.
I didn’t call it perfectionism then. I thought I was setting high expectations for myself like I was supposed to. I thought I was supposed to expect excellence and perfection from myself.
I took mistakes as a sign that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t aware or prepared enough.
As I got older, I tried to be perfect at work; but trying to be perfect at my work made me more depressed. Mistakes turned into nuclear reactions that could ruin my whole day. One mistake made me procrastinate making any other decisions for fear of making another mistake.
The only way that I could feel like I was good enough, was if I never made mistakes.
We all know what happens when you think like that!
A major way perfectionism shows up in my life by way of unrealistic expectations of myself.
WHY DO YOU THINK PERFECTIONISM IS SUCH A DREAM KILLER?
I’ve let so many opportunities pass me by because I was too worried about perfectly nailing everything on the first try.
I think what makes perfectionism such a dream killer is that it always made me feel inadequate. Like no matter what, someone else was doing what I wanted to do 10 times better, with better results, and there was no way that I could compete.
I’ve let countless ideas for my business die because of my perfectionism: “So many other people have done that. You don’t have anything new to add” or “You’re not an expert in that. You didn’t go to school for that. No one is going to listen and it won’t be valuable.”
Perfectionism is that nagging little voice in my head comparing me to others and pitting me against their success.
Perfectionism makes me scared to take a risk for fear of embarrassment and not living up to my ridiculously high expectations of myself.
HOW DOES PERFECTIONISM AFFECT YOUR SOUL AND SUCCESS, BOTH IN WORK AND LIFE?
Even to this day, I have a hard time taking compliments on my work or my successes in from others. I remember not really even enjoying my college graduation because I felt like why celebrate doing something I was “supposed to do”. I was supposed to go to college and graduate in four years like so many people did before me. Why make such a big deal?
I didn’t see that as a major success, because my perfectionism was always focusing on the next step. It never let me sit and breathe to enjoy the good that I did.
I’m still that way to this day. I have a hard time congratulating myself on things because I feel like there’s someone out there doing it better, faster, and with even more success.
I always feel like more can be done. That I always could have done better so I didn’t deserve the compliment.
It’s an active choice everyday to be happy and find the good things in my work and life. I make sure to sit myself down everyday and pick out the good things that I did that day. Even if I didn’t do any work and I just watched Scandal re-runs all day, I tell myself good job for taking the time out to take care of myself.
WHAT DOES EMBRACING IMPERFECTION MEAN TO YOU?
I was talking on Instagram with someone about perfectionism, and she used the quote “operating in excellence”. Since I decided to get serious about going full time and supporting myself financially, I adopted this mentality but I could never put it into words. I’ll love her forever for saying that phrase to me.
Embracing imperfection means standing up to myself and breaking down that nagging voice in my head telling me that my work is not good enough. That I’m not good enough.
Embracing imperfection means that hitting the send button or the publish button on something and trusting in my ability that it is excellent work. Not perfect, but excellent.
WHAT’S THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT PERFECTIONISM THAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?
Right now, I think it’s the comparison to others in my industry. I’m newer to the industry and as I’m finding my voice, it’s hard not to see what others that I admire are doing and either try to emulate them or become discouraged that I don’t have their success.
It took a lot of reflection to realize that a lot of the people that I admire have been in business for years. They weren’t overnight successes. They put in the work and grinded it out.
I have to be dedicated to putting in the work, and getting a hold on my perfectionism will help me take the risks that I need to stand out.
TIPS AND TRICKS ABOUT DEALING WITH PERFECTIONISM? SHARE THEM!
My interesting little trick to deal with perfectionism is to kind of reverse engineer it.
For example, say I have this big idea and I’m crazy excited about it. I write down everything I want to do for that idea, and then I write down my ideal results that I want to come from that idea.
I take what I wrote down and ask myself “How will you feel if this doesn’t happen 100%?” and I see how I feel. If I give myself some dramatic answer like “Well I’m going to go in debt, get cut off financially from my family, and never get over the embarrassment” (I have actually said that foolishness to myself) then I check myself. HARD.
I take every element of that statement and attack it from all sides. I think logically through every feeling and point out to myself what I truly have to lose (and gain) by taking the risk and going forward with the idea.
I’m all about unpacking my nagging voice of perfectionism. It took hitting a pretty low point in my life and realizing that the sun is still going to come up, people aren’t going to hate me, and the sky isn’t going to fall to realize that voice isn’t logical. Mistakes are ok. Mistakes make me interesting.
SHARE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA THAT YOU USE TO REMIND YOURSELF THAT WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO IS GOOD ENOUGH?
My current mantra is: “No matter what, I deserve to succeed and I deserve to create the life I want”.
Shoutout to @xobritdear on Twitter for helping me change my mindset and helping me develop that mantra. Following her has been fantastic for my mental health!
Another mantra I’ve adopted for dealing with failure or rejection: “Beyonce has fallen on stage at least 5-10 times and still sells out world tours. Mistakes are natural”.
WHO IS THIS PERFECTLY IMPERFECT CREATIVE?
Ashleigh Keith is a Houston, TX based Showit website designer that helps women entrepreneurs carve an online space for their business through web design that excites their audience, amplifies their voice, and converts for them. She has a B.S. in Psychology, and uses her knowledge of human behavior and interaction on the web to make sure that her designs for her clients are not just pretty, but also functional, optimized, and strategic. She is a no pants wearing, margarita addicted, bullet journal enthusiast. Gene Belcher from Bob’s Burgers is her spirit animal.
Wendy, again! Phew, that was SO powerful! Thank you, Ashleigh, for sharing your story so courageously. Make sure to show Ashleigh some love in any of the places linked above.
Are you inspired by Ashleigh's story and ready to let go of your perfectionism? Make sure to download my FREE perfectionism-busting workbook. Just click the button below!
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.