This week on the podcast we’re tackling perfectionism and how to be OK with not being the best at something. This is something (as you’ll hear) I’ve always struggled with. But more recently I’ve felt better able to lower my insanely high expectations of myself.
In this episode I’m sharing five steps that can help you be more comfortable with being a beginner at something. I hope it helps.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- Compassionate goal setting
- Perfectionism vs productivity
- Letting go of perfect
- Looking up – a shortcut to calm
- How to cope with vulnerability hangovers
- Feel the fear and post it anyway
- Coaching services
So this week I really want to talk about perfectionism and being comfortable with not being the best at something, which is definitely something I struggle with and I know a lot of other people do too. So if you’re in the same boat, then make yourself comfortable and keep listening, because this episode is for you.
Hello everyone and welcome back to the podcast! I hope you’re all doing well and have had a lovely week. So today I want to talk to you about being okay with not being the best at something. Basically, because okay with just being okay at something. Now I touched on this subject a couple of weeks back when I was talking about building self belief in episode 15, so definitely go back and listen to that, if you haven’t already. In that episode, I shared a really fun little story about when I couldn’t master playing a piece of music on my flute and I ended up hitting my flute on the music and denting it out of frustration. Now that is not the only example I can give you.
So as well as playing the flute, I also used to horse ride and I absolutely loved it and I was one of those students that was often called upon in class to show other students how to do something. And I got a real thrill from that and I got really used to winning first place rosettes at competitions, all up until I fell off my horse going over a jump and I broke my arm. And this totally and utterly shook my confidence and I just struggled to get back into a place where I was riding fearlessly. And eventually I stopped riding. So then, when I went to university, I tried to go back to horse riding. I loved it as a hobby. It was a part of who I was and I wanted to bring it back. But, as it turns out, I was obviously incredibly rusty after not riding for seven years, I think it was by that point. And it was really clear that I was the bottom of the class at university. And I think that hurt more than my broken arm. So I actually got thrown off again in a class, and while I didn’t break anything this time, I think that, combined with just not feeling like I was the best at it, was enough for me to quit it altogether.
Now this desire to be the best has I guess, to a degree, stuck with me. Not in everything I do, trust me – there are a lot of things I’m happy not being the best at, but in the things that I’m really passionate about, it does seem to come up every now and then.
Now, I have learned through my job as a writer for a living that I have to take feedback and criticism on board because you really don’t survive the writing industry if you’re not willing to take on feedback. But I’ve definitely noticed in the early days of Blue Jay of Happiness and my coaching work this desire to be perfect reared its ugly head again. And I feel like now, after a couple of years, I’m much better at letting go of this idea of wanting to be the best or perfect and lowering my insanely high expectations of myself.
So I guess I wanted to share a few things that can really help with this – five things, actually, to be exact – if it’s something that you find you struggle with too.
So, number one is to make your goals compassionate and realistic. So this is the thing: if you have perfectionist tendencies, like me, then chances are you have some pretty high expectations of yourself. And this can mean that, when you set goals, they end up being really difficult to achieve. So what I would like to encourage you to do is try and take a more compassionate approach when setting goals. Look at the reality of your schedule right now. Take any non-essentials off your list. Make sure you’re making space for self-care and now think about what you can realistically achieve.
Step number two is to treat it like an experiment. So when you’re trying something new, get your notebook out and try to make this thing like an experiment. Note how the process feels, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and just keep track of how it goes. And if you find the thing you’re doing doesn’t quite hit the mark, so let’s say, for example, you’re launching a new course and it doesn’t sell, then try diving into why this might be. What can you learn from the experience? And how can you improve things or maybe change your approach the next time round? And honestly this is the main way how I feel comfortable trying new things in my business. Even this podcast was a real experiment to start with. I knew I always wanted to do one, but I had no idea how it was gonna go, if anyone would listen to it, if it would be something I would actually enjoy the process of, until I did it. So once I did it and I could note, yeah, I really enjoy this and my audience seems to be enjoying this too, I know it’s something I want to keep going with. So try and treat things a bit like an experiment.
Now, number three is to practice being a beginner. So this is how we can get comfortable with not being the best at something, is by trying new things often and trying to enjoy the process of learning something new. Now, this doesn’t just have to be in the work environment. This can also be in your life outside, so maybe you want to start a new hobby, like let’s say, let’s take knitting for an example. Let’s say you want to start knitting. At first, you’re gonna mess up a lot and you’re probably not going to create the beautiful jumper that you see in the magazine you’re trying to recreate, but you can enjoy the process of learning and be okay with being a beginner there. And then that can translate into other areas of your life.
So step number four is to step back. Because when we’re starting something new, or when we don’t feel like we’re perfect at something, it can really feel all-consuming. And it’s easy to get totally overwhelmed by it. So instead, try and take some time to step back and look at the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, ask yourself how terrible would it be if the thing that you’re doing isn’t perfect? And how awful would it be if it actually failed? Ask yourself in five years, or ten years’ time, how much is this thing going to be affecting you? Often we tend to over exaggerate things in our minds as to how bad it’ll be if that happens, so try and keep that in mind too.
And, last but not least, step five is to share the experience, no matter how it goes. So I always find it’s really nice to let people know when I’m trying something new and admit that I’m a beginner. It’s something I did when I did an email course last year, not an email course, more of an email challenge. So people could sign up, they’d get an email sent to them, and there were gentle journal prompts and challenges for them, and I’d never done anything like that before. And when I first started it, I was really struggling to get the tech side of it working. Mailchimp, you are not my friend sometimes! But I told my audience that, so I sent out a newsletter and explained that I’m trying this new thing, I haven’t got it down perfectly yet, but, if you want to join in, this is how you can do it, and just be aware that there are going to be some things along the way that isn’t 100%, but I’m giving it a shot. And I got such lovely responses to that newsletter because people just resonate with people. And people love to know that nobody’s perfect and we’re all just fumbling around, trying to figure our way through. So people are a lot kinder than we give them credit for, so try and keep that in mind and yeah.
Sharing the experience, and even if something fails and goes horribly wrong, I think sharing that as well can be really nice for you to get it off your chest and also for other people to see. I’ve seen it a lot recently. I won’t name names, but I’ve seen some people admitting, I tried this thing and you know, it didn’t work out, and I just, I find comfort in that, listening to that. It makes me realise that I’m not alone when things go wrong. So yeah, I would really encourage you to just share the experience and no matter how it goes. Because, the thing is, getting comfortable with our vulnerabilities, and even our weaknesses to an extent, is how we grow as people. So try not to shy away from them.
And there we go! That’s all I have for you today. I really hope this was helpful. And please remember that, if you do struggle with perfectionism, you’re definitely not alone. And if the fear of not being the best at something is holding you back, and you really want some support in this area, then definitely take a look at my coaching packages at bluejayofhappiness.com and see if it’s something I could potentially support you with.
I’ll be back next week to talk about building emotional resilience, which, trust me, goes hand in hand with all of this kind of work. So yeah, I’m really excited to share that with you next week. Until then, I will say goodbye and I hope you have a really lovely week ahead.