Do you dream of perfection? Do you have some idea in your mind of how wonderful you will finally feel once you finally reach the fantasy life you’ve been imagining? Do you sometimes spend more time imagining that perfect life than you do taking bold action to achieve it?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, I have some news to share with you: you will never be perfect.
Most of us have this goal in mind, and we believe that if we can just reach it, we’ll finally achieve perfection . . . but that’s not how life works.
Don’t get me wrong: having goals is great! They give you drive and purpose, help you to achieve more, and sometimes even push you to become a better person—without them, life would be pretty boring. We can’t, however, let our goals and achievements define our peace of mind.
Let’s say you’ve just started a business and your goal is to reach $1 million net worth over the next 5 years. Then, five years pass, and you reach that goal. Hooray!
You’ve succeeded—now what? Do you just quit trying? Do you not set new goals for yourself that will keep you pushing toward new heights? Do you suddenly believe that you’ll never feel sad, lonely, anxious, bored, or disappointed again?
Whatever our goals are—whether they relate to work, family, or romance—we tend to create these fantasy outcomes that allow us to believe that, one day, we will finally live an anxiety-free life:
– If I could just meet the right person for me . . .
– If I could just get that promotion . . .
– If I could just break into that circle of friends . . . I’d be free!
The reality, though, is that you are always “in process.”
You are always growing; always learning; always becoming the person you’re going to be.
Just because you reach some arbitrary goal that you’ve set out for yourself doesn’t mean that you’re done! Again, without goals, we have nothing to strive for and no reason to exist. Even a hermit living in the woods has goals: chop enough wood, maintain the garden, hunt enough food—otherwise, he would freeze, starve, and die!
Part of the human condition is never being satisfied—always wanting to achieve more. And that’s not a bad thing. But it still means that we will go to bed at night unable to turn our brains off; it still means we will agonize over how the presentation went; it still means we will have to work to maintain healthy loving relationships; it still means we will have to deal with love, loss, achievements, and failures.
You will still feel great on certain days and lousy on others; you will still suffer just as much as you celebrate; you will still feel uncertain, even though you experience moments of great victory. And that’s okay . . . because without the bad, we would never understand or appreciate the good.
No matter what we endure or achieve in life, we must always remember not to equate confidence with a total lack of anxiety.
Even truly confident people experience judgments, awkwardness, moments of weakness, and failure. The difference for them is that they choose not to dwell on it—they know that life will never be perfect. They accept that fact. Then, when they experience a disappointment, they process it and move on so that they can get back to taking bold action toward a better life.
The best thing you can do for yourself as you travel on this road to your most confident self is to accept the idea that life will never be perfect—that YOU will never be perfect.
This might seem terrifying to admit to yourself at first, but it’s actually incredibly freeing. Think about all of the things you could accomplish if you were never stuck in one spot trying NOT to fail—it’s actually a profound relief: “Who cares if I mess up every now and then? Nobody’s perfect!”
And that’s the truth! Nobody is perfect . . . and they don’t have to be.
To demand perfection is to cripple progression.
Expecting perfection in yourself only exacerbates social anxiety and low self-esteem. It creates a story in your mind that says, “You’re not there yet and you never will be.”
If you truly want greater control over your anxiety, you need to cut the cord: let go of your need for perfection once and for all. Sure, you have your goals (and that’s great!), but how are you treating yourself in the meantime? What are you doing to quiet your inner critic, rewrite those negative stories in your mind, and push yourself toward greater self-acceptance and compassion?
Let go of that vice-grip you have on your perfectionist tendencies—let go of that need to constantly live for that next win. Talk to yourself more gently. Open yourself up to the more intimidating possibilities around you. Engage more with the people around you, and allow yourself to live in the moment whenever possible. You have the ability to experience great things . . . but perfection does not need to be one of them.
Please join me in supporting our online community by sharing your thoughts and questions below. Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.