5 steps to overcoming perfectionism and failure fear {guest post}


Do you dream of starting your own venture, but worry that you’d fail? Do you constantly compare yourself to others and believe that you could never achieve what they have?

In today’s society there’s so much opportunity for us to achieve our goals. Yet there’s also so much pressure for us to achieve perfection that we often put off our ambitions, or shelve them altogether.

I was recently contacted by Kerry Lyons, creator of The Imperfect Life Planner® and a lady on a quest to start a revolution against perfectionism. In a world that’s so focused on output, Kerry wants us to see that it’s okay not to be perfect all of the time. Instead, we can achieve our goals by taking the imperfect route and by overcoming our constant fear of failure. Over to Kerry…


5 steps to overcoming perfection and failure-fear

On the surface, they seem like two very separate things to deal with, but they’re actually inextricably linked and come hand in hand. If you didn’t have a need for everything to be perfect, you wouldn’t have an issue with you, or something you did, failing. Make sense?

As humans in today’s day and age, we’re under this monumental pressure to tick certain boxes to be considered any kind of success. Fall short of any of these boxes, and you’re swiftly labelled in the ‘failure’ category. Written off, judged and destined for mediocre. Nice right?

It’s bonkers and I for one have had enough of this pressure. Essentially because it’s complete bullsh*t! I’m on a mission to start an imperfect movement, and it starts with you right here, right now. And you can join this movement, by telling your addiction to perfection where to go, and kissing your fear of failure goodbye.

Are you ready? 🙂

Step 1: Acknowledge your perfectionism

As the saying goes, step one is admitting there’s an issue. If you’re half in the mindset of ‘I don’t mind my perfectionism sometimes, because it helps me have high standards in my work/home life/health/et al’, then I urge you to pause for a moment and consider this; how many times have you achieved perfection in those areas? At a guess I’d say probably little to none. But how many times have you beaten yourself up in the pursuit of perfection in those areas? At a guess, I’d say multiple times a day.

If you really want that true sense of freedom and liberation, there’s no time for denial here my friend.

overcoming fear failure

Step 2: Take note when and where it holds you back

So now you’ve accepted that you can do a lot of work in squashing that perfectionism out of your life, you need to start being aware of the times it creeps up on you. This will help you when those particular instances appear again in the future; so you can be mindful that it’s a weak spot for you and you shouldn’t necessarily listen to your inner voice at these times!

Some pretty likely triggers, are scrolling into a social media rabbit hole of comparison, or when you’re trying something new and want to be perfect at it from the get-go, and if you’re not, then you quit.

Also pay attention to when your failure fear creeps in on you too – are you dying to write a book, but you’re terrified of starting ‘cause there’s no way you could write 1,000 words, let alone 80,000? Or would you love to start painting, but you’re just horrified by the idea that someone might want to look at or critique what you create?

Whatever it is, note down things that you’d love (or have always longed) to do, but have never gone for them, because you’re scared of being rubbish or failing at them. This is all magic wonderful juice for your journey. I promise!

Step 3: See the value in your mistakes

So noooow, we know we’ve some imperfection and fear-squashing to do, we know the instances where your own self-defeating talk is rife – next is allowing yourself to make some mistakes honey. S’gotta be done. And how do you make mistakes? By living life and doing stuff!

Anyone who lives their life completely mistake-free, is quite literally not living IMHO. So when you make those mistakes, you wanna write them down and savour them, and THEN write down the value you took from them. I have a free worksheet that can help you structure it if you like, or using your own journal or pen and paper is just as good.

The key bit is, you need to practice this technique to see there’s actual value in each and every mistake you make. Crazy-value in fact. A mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn anything from it. After a few short weeks, you’re gonna start calling mistakes ‘lessons’ in your mind instinctively, and your fear of making mistakes and not being perfect, is going to get less and less important to you.

Step 4: Note down and work through your fears

You’re flying along at this stage! Well done you! Your imperfection skills are being honed and refined, and you’re starting to see wonderful value in not doing everything perfectly. Now it’s time to work through your fears to see what else is holding you back.

That book or that painting I mentioned earlier, what’s your very worst fear stopping you from doing those things? What is the worst case scenario of your fear? You need to externalise it, feel it, experience the tension from it and write it all down. Because once it’s out of your head and on to paper, you can deal with it. Ahhhh, see? Doesn’t that feel better already?

So there’s your deepest darkest fear, right there in front of you, in tiny, pretty handwriting. Is it so bad now you can physically see it? And if it came true, would the world really fall apart, or if you’re honest with yourself, could you concoct some kind of back-up plan? Could you rebuild yourself post-catastrophe and still survive? My guess is absolutely. So write down that back-up plan and externalise that too.

After this, you’re in a place where nothing’s actually stopping you. Exciting stuff!

Step 5: Feel your fear and do it anyway

All that’s left is for you to go for it – whatever it is that’s sitting on the other side of your fear. It’s so crucial to remember that the sensation of fear is always going to hang around you like a bad smell. It’s part of human nature to feel fear because it was the in-built instinct that kept our ancestors alive. But what’s handy to know is, you can overrule it, you can ignore it, and you can do it anyway.

Now go have some imperfect fun!

Kerry Lyons is the creator of The imperfect Life®, and The Imperfect Life® Planner is currently looking for funding from someone like you over on Kickstarter 🙂 if you want to truly find your happy and punch perfection right in the kisser, this might just be up your street. But it’s only available until August 31st, if it doesn’t meet its funding goal by then, it doesn’t get made!

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