So you’ve started working on a new goal, but you get off track for a day or two. And now you’re not sure you want to still pursue it.
You know you should begin this project but don’t have all of the supplies to do it perfectly. So why bother expending all that energy for mediocre?
You’ve always wanted to try a new hobby, and yet you know that it won’t come easily to you. Why try if you’ll struggle?
Sound familiar? This is “perfection paralysis”–goals, simple tasks, and projects we don’t do because we know we aren’t able to do them perfectly. Instead, we avoid and make excuses.
And, yes, I said “we.” I’m am for sure guilty of this. For example. . .
We have an awesome family room equipped with comfy couches, a giant tv, wet bar, mini fridge, and an array of kid’s toys. It truly is the perfect entertainment area.
Except that, it’s not—well, at least not in its current state, unless the television show, Hoarders, is how you get your entertainment. I avoided this room for almost two weeks because I couldn’t bear to be in it. It completely skeeved me out.
How did I let such a wonderful room turn into such a disaster?
I was paralyzed by perfection. I believed I had to do everyone perfectly and at once, and I knew I wasn’t capable of those standards.
And so, it didn’t seem worth it to start. Which, unfortunately, is a reoccurring theme in my life. When I start a new goal or habit, as soon as I mess up, I want to quit. If I can’t do it perfectly, what’s the point?
Thankfully, I’ve found a few steps that have helped put my perfection paralysis into perspective and to move forward in grace. So if you are ready to defeat perfection paralysis, grab a pen and some paper or a journal. And let’s get started!
4 Key Steps to Defeat Perfection Paralysis
Reflect – How is this affecting me?
Before going any further, let’s take 10 minutes to brain dump everything that is on our minds. Write down every worry, every excuse, and every hope you have. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s related to this specific scenario or not.
Write down every worry, every excuse, and every hope you have. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s related to this specific scenario or not. Write it down. You can use this time to journal a prayer over each worry and thought, as well.
Analyze – What is going on?
Take a deep breath. We are going to put that paper to the side for a moment and talk about facts. Let’s try to be as objective as possible.
- Name the project or task that is paralyzing you. (For me: cleaning the family room.)
- Next write what you believe needs to be done to accomplish that goal. (Mine would be: pick up toys, throw away garbage, bring dirty dishes upstairs, vacuum, scrub out stains, and dust)
- And finally, write what you can realistically do with your time and resources. (For me: pick-up toys and throw away garbage.)
Barriers – Why am I so overwhelmed?
Let’s look over both pieces of paper. One is filled with all of your emotions and the other with facts. I’m guessing (at least this is true for me) there is some underlying cause to the discrepancies between the two.
When my family room was “skeeving me out,” I felt like a failure of a wife and a mom. I would never get on top of the housework. I started comparing my house to others. I felt utterly defeated. I couldn’t fix everything that “needed” done.
I was paralyzed by perfection because I was buying into a multitude of lies.
- The state of my house defines me as a person.
- I should base my success and failure on someone else strengths.
- Everything had to be done all at once and perfectly.
What lies are you believing that are holding you back from taking action? Are you forgetting who you are in Christ? Are you comparing yourself to another? Or maybe you are expecting too much from yourself.
Make a Plan – Where can I begin?
The last step is making a realistic plan of action. Take out your list of everything that needs to get done. Choose 1 or 2 items that you can realistically do to start.
For example, you’ve decided to eat better and exercise more. You were doing really well, and then “fell off the wagon.” You have a massive list of everything you “need” to do, and it’s overwhelming and paralyzing you. So what is realistic for you right now?
Maybe right now, you could list all of your favorite healthy recipes and create a grocery list. You may not get to the store until tomorrow (or the next day), but you are one step closer to your goal.
What’s Next? Moving Forward in Grace
We can either be paralyzed by perfection or move forward in grace.
For me moving forward in grace meant, I had a half an hour to declutter and throw away trash. And tomorrow I’d have another half an hour to do the next tasks on my list.
And so that’s what I did. And now my family has their awesome living room back, and I’m feeling so more much at peace.
And you can, too!
Do you struggle with perfection paralysis? How have you overcome it?