Many people in creative fields can be perfectionists, especially photographers, florists, wedding planners and people who need to care about the details. I am constantly on the look for the perfect light and space, to put hair and clothing in their proper place, and to make sure it doesn’t look like a tree or a lamp post is coming out of my clients head. My attention to detail is has become my super power over the years. I don’t know why the X-Men franchise hasn’t brought on “Highly Aware of Every Detail Girl,” but, in my own life, I truly do feel like the Syndey Bristow of Wedding Photographers.
This super powerful attention to detail comes with it’s very own nemesis—a dark, evil, horrible case of perfectionism that has plagued me ever since I was first praised for being perfect. We live in a society where it’s almost impossible for a woman not to be plagued and haunted with perfectionism. Every day we see perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect eye lashes, perfectly plumb lips, breast that are always pointing upwards. If we frequent instagram, we also see women always happy and sexy and hipster and sometimes baking cakes and their houses are all white and all perfect, and it doesn’t help.
Two years ago, I went on a mission eradicate perfectionism from my life and business, and the results were overwhelming in their success. Here are the top three ways that perfectionism was ruining my life and my business and what I did about it.
1. Perfectionists Get Less Done—perfectionists just take longer to get things done. Time truly is money. Time is our most valuable commodity that we have. We can never get back all the wasted hours we spent on over editing our photos. Perfectionists take longer choosing websites designs, putting together marketing material, or debating on what to publish and how to publish blog posts. They doubt themselves at every turn and do not want to put anything out in the open that they do not deem as perfect. This is a vicious cycle because perfectionism does not exist. I now limit myself on the time I take to make decisions. I let my assistant blog for me even though I do not always like how she does this (she really is a saint to work for me). I make faster decisions on new websites, newsletter layouts, and just go with my very first inclination on most things even thought 80% of the time I know they could be better, but I also know they are good enough for now. There are a million ways that I have implemented over the past two years that have cut my perfectionism by at least 75%. It feels lighter, business flows easier, and clients are actually happier.
2. Perfectionists Let “Rejection” Affect Their Behavior— How many of you get a client who doesn’t like something you created and you let it immediately affect your state of mind and being? You want to crawl into bed and you question why you ever decided to run your own business. Whether an inquiry decides to go with another photographer, a client doesn’t like their photos, or you have a bride that just refuses to follow communication norms and just harasses you. These kinds of occurrences are going to happen any time you run a business, and it does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. One of my favorite quotes by Tony Robbins says, “Your biggest problem is that you think you shouldn’t have any.” Perfectionists think that if they do everything perfectly than all the results should lead to perfection. This is just not reality and can cause for a lot of heartache and questioning of “what did I do to attract this!!!”. To which I want to say, “baby, this is life!” The sooner you can detach your emotions from your perceived rejection—the sooner you can deal with the issues at hand like a badass and continue moving forward. I truthfully do not even use the word “rejection” in my business or when I am on Tinder.
Taking a purely emotional response to problems is the number one reason why female-based businesses fail—they take the normal day-to-day problems and internalize it as simple meaning they are not good enough. If you constantly feel like you are failing, then your business is going to fail. I am a very empathic person and often take on the energy of those around me. When I get an angry email, I immediately feel that negativity and go into stress mode. It used to stay with me for weeks—like a dark hole in the pit of my stomach accompanied by feelings of helpless to change the situation. I have now recognized in myself that when I get a negative, sad, or upset email or phone call—my first reaction might be to mirror those feelings. Because I know this, I have set in place at least five rituals that I use to get me out of my state of suffering and put me back into a happy state of prosperity and productiveness. The rituals are too long to list here, but most of them include getting present, dealing with what is, not projecting into the future, and detaching from the emotions and looking at the facts. When we can look at the facts as they are (instead of creating a story around why they are what they are) then we can solve them. This is often a more masculine way of operating, but when I am running my business, I do tend to take on more of a masculine energy (if you haven’t delved into the wonderful world of masculine and feminine energy traits, I highly recommend it!).
3. Perfectionists Put Others Before Themselves—here is the root problem: Perfectionism is truly just a mask for shame. We feel shame that we aren’t good enough, that we can’t do it all, and that we have flaws. Most people who have struggled with perfectionism are really just struggling to find self-acceptance. We have subconsciously decided that to be worthy of love and significance we have to be perfect. Perfectionism is often tied to eating disorders (which I have had and still struggle with), with a desire to always appear happy and fine, with the inexplicable need to have straight As in school (and an A- usually meant weeks and weeks of consuming self hatred), and so many other red flags that are simply tied with us not loving ourselves enough. When we put everyone else before us it can mean staying up all hours of the day and night to email and edit, it means booking clients during the mornings when you really want to be taking a yoga class, it means making exceptions and casting aside the activities that would serve you best so that you can accommodate everyone around you. When you release this perfectionism—this need to please—when you release it, your business still succeeds, in fact, it thrives, because you are rested and happy and have done the things that you need to do to fill your cup instead of trying to fill everyone else's. This is the hardest one to grasp, but I recommend starting simple. One of the best things you can do is have a business or life coach, join a supportive mastermind, or find other levels of support from women who can see you clearly for who you are. Avoid hanging out with critical, negative, and Debbie Downer type people. Take time each morning to do things that put you in a positive, happy, and joyful frame of mind.
In conclusion, perfectionism is not some cute little personality trait we can live with, it is the vilest of villains and we need to f*cking murder it dead. The end.
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VENDORS: Dress: Leanne Marshall Ribbon: Poetry of Silk Bouquets: Ava Floral (www.avafloral.com)