The answers to these questions is all you need to do right now.
This is not a time to try and be perfect.
If you’re entire definition of productivity has changed in the last ten days, that’s completely fine.
If you’re so tired that all you can do is the basics, that’s completely fine.
If you feel super busy, but you can’t figure out why because you’ve barely left the house, that’s completely fine.
If you’re sitting at home bored because you live alone and your entire social life has been cancelled and you genuinely want to use this time to dive into personal growth, be creative, write, read, workout, whatever you want to do – that’s also completely fine.
There isn’t any one right way to do this. Listen to yourself, to your true inner voice, to your core needs – and find the way that works for you.
If you’ve ever found yourself re-reading an email for the eighth time or tweaking an already-done PowerPoint, this message is for you.
Ditto if you’ve spent weeks fiddling with the font on your website, have a blog that’s been sitting in your drafts folder for days (or weeks…or months…) or have an idea you’ve been waiting to share because it just needs a little more research.
Here’s the mindset hack: Go for 97.
Let me explain.
100% perfection isn’t possible. You’re human. No matter how hard you work, there will always be an error. You could always do more research, always wordsmith a document one more time. You need to take a stand and let go of 100%.
AND…the effort it takes to go from 97% to 99% usually isn’t worth it.
So go for 97.
I can already see the engineers and accountants questioning this approach, so I’ll tell you now – there’s no actual math behind this. It’s a mindset shift. That’s it.
But it’s a mindset shift that’s given me permission to let go and be imperfect so I can spend my time doing something that will create a bigger impact than changing from my font from Cambria to Calibri.
Think about it….if it takes you two hours to go from 0 to 97% and then ANOTHER two hours to go from 97% to 99%, isn’t that a waste of time? I KNOW how much potential each of you has and I want to see you spending your time and energy doing what matters to you and what can make a difference for others.
Another thing – I use this mindset hack for things that I consider FINISHED. Done. Complete. As good as they’re going to be.
Drafts don’t get 97%. Neither do pilots or experiments or basically anything I’m doing for the first time.
They get about 80%. Maybe less.
As someone that used to expect things to be successful the first time around, putting something out into the world at 80% was hard! The story behind getting to 80% is too much for this blog, but let me know if you want to know more about it and I’ll be sure to share in a future message.
For now, aim for 97%. Catch yourself when you’re crossing past the 97% line and force yourself to be done. It will be uncomfortable! That’s okay. Embrace the discomfort and stop working anyway.
Let me know how this works for you! I always love to hear your stories.
I facilitated a webinar for a company last week on perfectionism and A LOT of people showed up. The #1 question they asked?
When is striving for excellence and achievement GOOD – and when is it perfectionism?
Such a great question!
Because I know many of you struggle with perfectionism and overachieving, I wanted to answer the question for you too.
Here’s the official, researched response:
Healthy excellence means you can learn from mistakes and let them go. You experiment and try new things and see yourself as worthy and separate from your job or goal, so you don’t personally feel like a failure when something goes wrong.
Perfectionism is believing you cannot fail. It’s just not an option. Your goal or job becomes your identity. You might stop yourself from trying new things because you aren’t certain you’ll be good at them. Or you may work yourself into the ground to make sure you are successful. Your inner critic keeps an archive of all your mistakes and failures, repeating them inside your head over and over. It might feel like life has become a giant report card.
For me, the line is more of a feeling. When I’ve crossed the line, I feel an internal drive to keep working harder to prove myself. I feel like things have to be successful the first time around or that I’m not allowed to fail. There’s usually a tiny pit in my stomach, an underlying feeling of low-level anxiety that isn’t terrible, but it’s persistent.
This feeling is my clue that I need to check-in with myself, do some grounding activities like hiking or cross-country skiing, and say no to more things. This will get me back on the healthy side of the line.
What does that line feel like for you? When do you know you’ve crossed over from healthy excellence to unhealthy perfectionism?
I gave myself a soft deadline of this Thursday, January 16 to launch an online course for all of you.
Knowing that I’m an overachiever that tends to take on too much, I consciously told myself it was fine if I didn’t meet the deadline. It was completely okay if the course didn’t launch until next week. After all, what does 4 or 5 days matter in the grand scheme of things?
I told myself these things – and still this week I could feel the overachiever inner critic popping back into my mind telling me I better meet that Thursday deadline. I better work nights and push myself to get it all done. The familiar feeling of low-level anxiety crept into my belly.
And then I caught myself.
Instead of just telling myself it was okay not to meet the deadline, I actively gave myself permission to launch next week.
I realized all these feelings pushing me to meet a completely arbitrary deadline were just old patterns and old beliefs. And I didn’t want to listen to them anymore.
So I let them go.
And I was immediately relieved. SO relieved. Now that the pressure of the fake deadline is gone, I can actually ENJOY the process of creating the course. And I can enjoy the next several days of my life as well.
This is how change happens – any change. It’s not a linear process where one day you decide to be a different person and you slide into that new way of being without any bumps along the road.
Change is catching yourself earlier and earlier. Instead of berating yourself for being back in the same place, appreciate how far you’ve come. Realize a year ago you wouldn’t have even NOTICED you were in old habits and beliefs, let alone redirected yourself.
You are on a journey. Despite how often it feels like you’re running in circles, let me assure you – you are moving forward. You are evolving and growing every day. You are letting go and unlearning and becoming more and more of the person you are every step along the way.
Who doesn’t want to work less? Even people that love their jobs and have pretty reasonable hours usually want to work less and have more time for family, friends, exercise, fun, creativity, etc.
And, let’s face it, most of you reading this aren’t working reasonable hours. You’re struggling to put boundaries around work. It makes no difference whether you’re an employee in an organization or an entrepreneur. Working too hard is an epidemic.
It’s one of the most common problems that people share when they come to me for coaching. You don’t want to work every night. You don’t want to check email while still laying in bed in the morning. You want to work hard and be successful, but also let go of it and be present in your time NOT working. We all want it.
Here are the two keys to working less:
Work smarter, not harder: You’ve probably heard this one before, but how many of you are actually doing it? Hint: If you have your email open all the time when you’re working, you not doing it. There are so many ways you can get more efficient and cut out work that doesn’t matter so that you can work less – while also having a bigger impact with your time.
Believe you can work less – and still be successful: This is the one you probably haven’t heard, but it’s even more crucial than the first one. Even when you KNOW that you can be more efficient and do the important work, if you have an underlying belief that you have to hustle to be successful, then that belief is going to override everything. If you believe you’re not the smartest one in the room, but you can work the hardest, then you’ll always work too much. If you believe that money only comes through working 60 hours a week, then you’re going to work 60 hours a week. If you feel like an imposter in what you’re doing, you’re going to work like crazy to keep others from finding you out.
You ALWAYS need both the outer practical work and the internal work to really make change. You have to look inside yourself to shift your beliefs and put practices in place to work smarter.
Either one without the other and long-term change is not going to happen.
That’s why you get both sides in my coaching. I don’t want you to make change for a few weeks – I want you to change your life, so that you can change the world.
There were so many wake-up calls I totally ignored. Sobbing on the floor when I was a junior in high school because I was so completely exhausted. Nearly blacking out during a final in college. Getting shingles when I was 30.
I knew all these things were because of my crazy driving and overachieving, but I didn’t actually know WHY I was putting so much pressure on myself to succeed at EVERYTHING.
Until last winter.
I finally took a step back and asked myself the question.
The answer came to me in an instant.
I was working so hard to prove myself. To compensate for areas in my life that I felt behind or out of the race entirely. It started in high school when I was overweight and boys weren’t interested in me, so I put all my energy into getting good grades and being the captain of two sports and working at my church and volunteering.
And it continued up through last winter when I realized I was putting all the pressure on my business because I wasn’t married and wasn’t a mother. I thought to myself, “Well, I better be successful in my business, because if I fail here and I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, then what do I have to show for my life?”
Part of me knew this wasn’t true. I rationally knew that I was worthy as a human no matter what I achieved. But there was another part of me that didn’t fully believe it.
I didn’t want to keep feeling this way.
So I worked. My new mantra became you are worthy for who you are, not what you do. I let go of the comparison, of feeling like everything had to be successful the first time around, and adopted a mindset of progress over perfection. I practiced quieting the inner critic that was forever telling me I had to be working and proving and I started trusting my true inner voice. I even discovered I had an artistic side and started painting for the first time ever.
The inner critic isn’t completely gone, but it is SO MUCH BETTER. And you guys – life is so much more fun this way! An outsider looking in might not notice many differences, but I feel completely different on the inside. More centered and present and playful and open to the possibilities. I work from joy and inspiration rather than proving and driving.
This alone would be enough, but it isn’t all – my business has also continued to expand as I’ve done this work on myself.
This isn’t just my story – it’s the story of my coaching clients. These women are slowing down and enjoying life. They are growing their business and career because they focus on impact instead of proving. They are saying no and letting go of people pleasing. They are getting out of their own way and standing in their strengths. They are changing the world, one unhurried step at a time.
If you want to stop the madness of hustling for your worth so you can have the life you want while making a big impact, schedule a coaching consultation with me now. It’s a free 30-minute call where we’ll get clear on what’s holding you back and decide together if coaching is the right fit for you.
Don’t wait. Life is so much better on the other side.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women to get out of their own way so they can have the life they want while making a big impact with their business. Click here to learn more about coaching.
For a long time I prided myself on NOT being a perfectionist. I have a MAJOR bias towards action. I want things to be excellent, but I also firmly believe that perfection is unattainable and the effort it takes to make things very nearly perfect simply isn’t worth it. One the core values for my business is even “Progress Over Perfection”!
But then one day I was sitting there revamping my bio for an upcoming speaking engagement and I realized it was the THIRD TIME that week I had updated my bio. Total perfectionist move!
That’s when I knew there were two kinds of perfectionists – procrastinators (not me) and customizers (100% me).
Here’s how they each show up:
Procrastinators research an idea to death before sharing it with anyone. They try eighty different fonts on their website and it still isn’t published. They read an email four times before hitting send. They wait until their proposal is “perfect” before sharing it with anyone.
Customizers tweak. They re-do the presentation, re-write the bio and update their website a million times. They create an email template and then change it every time it’s sent. Occasionally customizing is helpful. But most often it’s a colossal waste of time.
Procrastinators tend to hold back from taking public action until something is “perfect”. Customizers take action, but then update every step along the way in an effort to make it “perfect.”
Both are inefficient. Both get in our way. And both are driven by doubt.
Procrastinator’s doubt can show up like “It’s not ready! What if people think this idea is dumb? I’m sure they’ve already thought about this. What if I put myself out there and I get criticized? Or worse, what if nobody even notices!” (If this sounds like you, click here to get 5 Ways To Quiet The Inner Critic right now!)
Customizer’s doubt is a little different. It’s more subtle. But at the root is working too hard to customize as a way of proving your worth.
This is HUGE for so many women. And working to prove your worth has serious impacts on your life. It creates anxiety and overwhelm. It makes you feel like whatever you do is never enough, even though you are busy ALL THE TIME.
Which kind of perfectionist are you? Comment below to let me know!
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to stop the hustle so they can reclaim their life and focus on what’s really important. See her coaching page for more information.