Do you often notice that pull to have everything “perfect?”
Do you ever find yourself hiding behind a mask of perfection?
How often do you worry about showing up as YOU because you’re concerned about criticism or rejection from others?
If these situations sound familiar, you’re in good company.
As ADHDers, high achievers, and goal-getters, we seem to strive for perfection constantly.
We’re on a never-ending quest to get it “right.”
And today, I want to challenge this perspective.
Because perfect does not exist.
Just look at the definition of perfect from Merriam-Webster: “Having no mistakes or flaws.”
No mistakes or flaws? Ha! No. As humans, perfection is simply not reality.
And guess what?
This is a good thing.
As John Steinbeck reminds us:
“Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
In episode 126 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we explore why this is true, and we consider what it might look like to release the impossible standards we place on ourselves.
So if you find yourself holding back and waiting for things to be perfect,
Or if you notice you’re not showing up in your life as fully as you’d like,
This episode has your name on it.
You can listen to it above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
In This Episode, You Will Discover How To…
- Why we struggle with perfectionism.
- How perfectionism keeps us stuck.
- What we can do to release perfectionism and feel confident in ourselves.
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Learn more about We’re Busy Being Awesome here
- Learn my top 6 strategies to boost your focus and concentration (free training)
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
- Discover my favorite ADHD resources here
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Episode #126: And now that you don’t have to be perfect… (Transcript)
Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 126 of the podcast. How are you? This episode goes live when I am in Minnesota. Of course, I am recording this ahead of time period but I am so incredibly excited to get back home and soak up all of the amazing family time as we celebrate this season together.
Now, the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind over here in the world of I’m busy being awesome. It’s been amazing and fun, but also a whirlwind. And again, since I am recording this episode ahead of time, I’ve been feeling a little bit worried about how I’d get my podcast episodes for the upcoming weeks recorded ahead of time before I get on the plane and fly back to Minnesota.
Then as I sat down with my notebook to start mapping out this episode, I flipped through some pages of writing to get to a fresh page. And in doing so, a quote scrawled across it top of the page with some thoughts written underneath it caught my eye.
I have no idea what I had originally intended this writing to be; it really just seemed like some of my reflections on the quote. But as I had opened my notebook feeling a bit stressed, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to get all of my work done before hopping on the plane, the quote scribbled at the top of the page definitely had me press pause. It calmed that frantic energy a bit. And I thought that I would share some of these musings with you today.
So today’s episode is not your typical 5 tips to do this or three steps to do that. Instead, I offer this episode to you for your own reflection. I offer it to you in hopes that it gives your brain some space for musing as well.
Now, of course, you know I love good action steps. So I will leave you some questions to consider at the end of the episode If it connects with you. But overall, I hope that whenever you press play on this episode, that it comes at exactly the right time that you need to hear it.
So let’s talk about this quote, shall we? What is this quote that had my brain firing on all cylinders?
It is a quote by John Steinbeck In his book East of Eden. And the quote is, and now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.John Steinbeck
I think what specifically stopped me in my tracks when I saw this quote today is how it basically called me out. It is so important for me to get a new podcast out every week for you listeners. And because I always want to share with you the best strategies and concepts and newest ideas that I’ve been considering, it’s easy for me to slip back into perfectionist thinking when it comes to the podcast.
For example, I’ll have an idea, and I’ll start mapping it out and realize: No. That one is not good enough. Then I’ll start again. Then again. And again. Who knows how many good ideas I’ve skipped by because it’s not quote unquote good enough. And I notice this perfectionism sneak up most often when I’m in more frantic energy. When I’m not slowing down and being as intentional as I’d like. And I noticed this was most certainly the case as I was in a hustle energy to get everything ready over the last few days before I leave for my trip.
And then I saw this reminder. I saw this note from my past self reminding me now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good. And it helped me slow down for a minute. That thought helped me take some breaths and remind myself that it’s all going to work out. In the words of Rumi, it’s all rigged in my favor.
So. Now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good.
There’s so much truth in this line, isn’t there? So much truth. So much beauty. And so much freedom. Now that you don’t have to be perfect. You can be good. As high achievers, goal-getters, ADHDers, we seem to constantly strive and search for perfection. But it’s really this futile search. As I talked about several months ago, things aren’t perfect. Perfect is an illusion. And it’s something we often cling to keep us safe.
We constantly push for perfection. We grasp tightly onto every project and idea and presentation, unwilling to share it with the world because we’ve somehow conflated our productivity or our output with our worthiness as humans. So if we put our work out in the world, and it’s not perfect. If we share our work with others and it receives critique, we take that as critique or rejection or ridicule of us.
And what’s more, we spend so much time and energy hiding behind these masks of perfection. Not only do we continue perfecting every project and assignment and presentation, but we try and perfect how we present ourselves. How we show up. Who we are as individuals. We put on these masks to avoid showing as our true selves because again, we’re worried of people seeing us for who we really are. We think people will reject us when they realize we’re not perfect.
So rather than sharing our voice or our ideas with the world and risking that rejection, we instead reject ourselves ahead of time. We reject ourselves with constant negative critique, of telling ourselves that our ideas are stupid, that the project isn’t good enough, that we don’t have everything “just right” yet.
But this message From Steinbeck – now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good – it through the noise. It cuts through the noise with truth. It calls out the lie of perfection and it celebrates the good.
What would it look like if we all let go of this perfectionist lie? What would it look like if we allowed ourselves to be good? And not only allowed ourselves to be good, but celebrated it? Imagine the new ideas and innovations and fresh perspectives people would share. Imagine the collaboration and growth that could unfold. Just imagine the inspiration offered and the permission granted not only for ourselves but for all of the younger generations if we allow ourselves to be good. What might that look like?
I often think about the toll that perfectionism takes on a person’s mind and body. Striving for perfection is a bit like walking on eggshells constantly. We have to be so careful. So cautious. So exact. We have to hide behind this facade, hoping against hope that we can keep it all up. Hoping against hope that we’re not seen for who we really are and experience criticism.
But again, we’re not escaping that criticism. Instead, we’re right there behind the mask facing all of that scrutiny, and ridicule, and criticism anyway. But this time it’s coming from inside the house. Rather than potentially hearing it from other people, that pain is coming from inside you. From your judgment. Rather than risking potential negative feedback, we instead fill our minds with the worst criticism we could imagine, we feel that pain ahead of time, and we guarantee rejection. We guarantee rejection because we hold ourselves back and never try. We fail ahead of time, because we’re rejecting ourselves.
And all the while, the people who want nothing more than you’re amazing goodness have to miss out. The people who need you can’t learn from your wisdom, your experience, your YOU-ness Because you deemed it imperfect and not enough.
But not now. Because now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good. And that goodness is so beautiful. And what’s more, it’s freedom. Imagine that freedom of releasing the perfectionist restrictions. Imagine the freedom of showing up exactly as you are 100%? Who would you be? What would you create? How much more would you show up and enjoy your experience on this earth?
Now, I know this isn’t easy. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know this is something that I used to struggle with big time. What’s more, it’s something I still struggle with. Frankly, I have a feeling it will be the work of my life. Because on the one hand, this striving for perfection seems logical. Of course, we want to do well. Of course, we want to show up as the best version of ourselves. This makes sense. And in fact, There are parts of that I want to keep.
But it gets sticky when we use this definition of perfection against ourselves. Because attaining perfection as a human – unless we are perfectly imperfect – is just an impossible feat. I mean, listen to some of these different definitions of perfect: completely free from faults or defects. Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics. Having no mistakes or flaws. This is not humanity, my friends. Humans are messy. And we get ourselves into trouble when we compare ourselves to impossible standards.
Perfect bodies are airbrushed. Perfect families share the highlight reels. And perfect speakers have speech writers. Perfect companies and businesses have teams. Perfect YouTube videos and podcasts have editors. And perfect books have gone through multiple iterations.
Nobody does it alone. Nobody does at all. And nobody knows at all. Nobody does it the first time perfectly. That’s the truth. And that’s also what’s beautiful. Because there’s so much space for growth. Just take a minute and think about how you feel when you really lean into the truth that is no perfection. Because if there is no perfection, we can finally let go and start focusing our attention on what really matters to us.
Plus, can I just say – how boring would our lives be if perfect were our reality? How boring would it be to live our day-to-day lives if we were all perfect at everything, knew everything, and could do everything perfectly? There’d be no need for growth. There would be no need for challenge or adventure. We wouldn’t need to learn or advance or collaborate. There’d be no reason to set goals or dig deep or learn more about yourself the world. There’d be no room for our humanity.
And it’s our humanity that makes it all worth it. When we can release this false perfectionism, that’s when we open up to what’s true and what’s real. When we show up as who we are in our full humanity, we open up to connection, to truth, and to experiencing life to its fullest. And, when we dig deep and show up as ourselves, we hold space for and inspire others to do the same, too.
So whenever you are listening to this episode, I invite you to check in with yourself. Where are you preventing yourself from enjoying your experience of this one precious life because you’re worried it’s not yet perfect?
Where are you holding yourself back from going all in on your dream or sharing your ideas with others, or speaking what’s true for you, because your brain thinks, “I don’t have everything together yet. It’s not quite good enough.”
Where are you playing small in your life to avoid rejection, only to reject yourself instead by not sharing your magic with the world? Where are you telling yourself, I’ll be happy when I finally get this thing or that thing perfect?
Notice these moments. Question them. Ask yourself, is it worth it? And hear me – I know this isn’t an easy question to answer. As I mentioned, this is quite possibly the work of my life. It’s one that I grapple with often. But the more I get comfortable with it, the more I genuinely believe these words of Steinbeck. Now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good. And from what I’ve found so far is that being good. Being YOU. And loving all of you. Is the real secret to creating that full life we all seek.
Alright my friends. That’s going to do it for us this week. And if you know someone who’d love the reminder “now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good,” would you be a Rockstar and share this episode with them?
Also, if you love what you learn on the podcast and you’re ready to take it to the next level with a small community of incredible people, there a few spots open in the January cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome. Head to imbusybeingawesome.com/group to learn more. If it’s a good fit for you, then to submit an application to join us. I’d love to welcome you into the group. And if you’re listening to this episode after January 2022, you can still head to imbusybeingawsome.com/group and add your name to the waitlist for when the next round opens up.