There’s a strange paradox I see all the time. Accomplished professional women who strive to build great careers, launch businesses, or make big shifts in their personal or professional lives often trip themselves up.
So many of these women have big ambitions, big ideas, and even big plans but can’t get things moving. Or they make a start and can’t build momentum.
What holds them back?
Two big culprits are fear and perfectionism — and often a combination of the two. These two forces are the underlying issues that keep so many people playing it safe (tweet this).
They slow them down — or keep things from getting started at all.
“It’s not good enough yet.”
Have you said these words to yourself?
You’ve been thinking, planning, and laying groundwork for something new and important. Maybe you’ve prototyped a new product, or completed rigorous training, or see the opportunity to build an awesome business. Maybe you’ve gone as far as building a new website. But the thought of actually showing it to the world or taking the next steps feels terrifying.
After all, what if it’s not good enough — or you’re not good enough? What if people won’t like it? What if you’ll be judged — by a relative, a colleague, or in the vast social media world?
Fears like these, that sit atop the perceived need for everything to be perfect, have stopped many worthy and important new things from getting off the ground.
Here are 3 ways you can turn things around
1. Stop listening to the fear
Focusing your time and energy on more refinement or additional preparation — or holding off on taking action — may feel like a safe way to protect yourself. But this is actually a way of telling yourself, “I’m willing to stay where I am right now.”
If that’s not what you want, I’m here to tell you that you have the power to choose not to let the thoughts that drive perfectionism and fear rule you.
It may sound simple (and maybe a little odd), but when you hear thoughts like those you can talk back to them.
Start by acknowledging them. Be aware that these thoughts are your ego piping up, trying to maintain the status quo (which feels oh so comfortable).
This is your opportunity to be compassionate to that voice, but to firmly tell it you are in change and you’re running the show.
Will it feel easy to do that? Probably not. But when you want something that’s important to you, you are called on to step out of your comfort zone and bring some boldness to the matter.
And, remember that there is no such thing as “perfect.” So, share that news, too, when you respond to your fearful thoughts.
(You can read more about perfectionism and what to do about it here.)
2. Take action
Taking action — including some risks — is always the path to learning, growth, building confidence, and ultimately to reaching new and exciting places in your life.
Remember how many times Thomas Edison tried and failed before he created a light bulb that worked (he made 1000 attempts!). What if he had never started, or felt he needed the perfect solution right off the bat, or was so worried about how people would judge him that he did not get started, or became so discouraged along the way that he gave up?
Start with small steps and keep going — every small step counts. Stepping out of your comfort zone this way is not as hard as you might imagine. Continued action builds momentum. And you will find that action keeps fear at bay.
3. Ramp up self-love
The foundation that will support you to implement steps one and two is actively emphasizing self-love.
If you have been following my work for a while, this concept will be familiar to you. If not — or if you want a refresher on the topic — here’s an article that’s devoted to this important topic.
When you cultivate an appreciation for all of your gifts, when you feel deserving of goodness in your life, and when you joyously love the amazing person you are, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to stand up to fear, ease up on perfectionism, and take action.