Paralyzed by Perfectionism

There’s this really weird thing that happens when you get focused. It’s almost like you all of the sudden have super powers that you never knew you had, and tasks just seem too easy. You question whether or not they should actually be harder because of the level of work you’re doing. 

This was the exact feeling that I had today when I sat down to knock out my task list that I had strategically scheduled on my calendar for very specific times. In fact the only reason that I have time to write this blog post is because I breezed through everything that I had scheduled and have 20 minutes to spare – and I absolutely refuse to allow it to be wasted in my inbox (because you know how easily that turns into a black hole). 

Up until I got to Miami for the Super Bowl, I was in a slump. In fact, it had been going on for about 3 weeks and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what it was. I would show up to work every day and just sit at my computer. I felt completely frozen. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do because trust me, with Super Bowl and NBA All Star events on the horizon, along with a laundry list of client projects there was more than enough to do. I just couldn’t do it. It reminds me of that phrase “paralysis by analysis”. It was as if I was analyzing everything that needed to get done, and because I didn’t know where to start, and quite frankly was scared that I wouldn’t do it perfectly, I did nothing – complete paralysis. 

I think it’s important to highlight that I am hands down a perfectionist. I’ve never really understood what it means to just “be”. Because as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been striving. Where I was, was never enough. It started as a young gymnast when I truly believed (thanks to my former Olympian coaches) that if I didn’t take first place that the meet was a waste… and so everytime that happened I added a practice to my regiment, which meant that I was practicing every single day for a minimum of three hours a day – oh, and I think I was about 10 years old… It carried over into high school where I had to play basketball, be a cheerleader, run for student council, and maintain my popularity. In college, it was making captain of the Purdue cheer squad – because why else would I be on the team if I couldn’t be the leader? You can only imagine what perfectionism does to an entrepreneur. Because in case you’re unaware, being an entrepreneur and starting a company is as far from perfect as you can ever get. It is absolutely inevitable that you will fail. In fact, you won’t just fail, but you will probably fall flat on your face and mess up some of the biggest projects and opportunities that come your way. It’s just part of the game. And although everyone tells you that those “failures” will be your greatest source of inspiration and best way to learn, it still really sucks every time it happens. 

And yet somehow I navigated through five straight years as an entrepreneur gritting my teeth through the ups, downs, and yes, failures, but continuing to take steps along the way. No matter how many times a sports agent hung up on me, I would still keep them on my list to call them back again the next year. It was as if fear didn’t exist. But somewhere over the course of the last year of experiencing some of the biggest changes within my company, and my life, I lost that ability to just bounce back. Everytime fear popped up I either ran the other way or curled up into a ball. Especially when it popped up as fear of not getting it perfect. And then a friend shared some insight: What if you’re fine just the way you are? What if God loves you are you? The real you that you are today. Not the one that strives to constantly be and do better, but just you. 

It was an interesting thought, that quite frankly it took a minute to set in. How come no one ever told me this? Why did I think that I was actually created and wired to strive at all times? No clue. But the minute that I digested it, it was time to get back in the game. Because the truth was that my company, and of course my bank account, couldn’t afford for me to continue to show up to work everyday completely unable to produce anything. So here we are: knocking out projects, being productive, managing my time, and also producing content. 

Do you suffer from perfectionism? Do you ever feel paralyzed by your own standard of yourself? I would love to know. Especially if you have any insight to share on how you tackle it.

With love. 

p.s. I forced myself to write this and then post it without editing – because I know myself too well and I would have re-written it seven hundred times and then stil contemplated whether to share it with the world. #truth

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