Perspective, Perfection, and Action

Tetons Ducklings ReflectionsPeople often fall into one of two categories regarding taking action. One group has the perspective of “decide and do” and then adjust along the way. The other group has the perspective of seeing a goal as daunting. They can’t see how to achieve this looming goal perfectly, so they don’t even start. The kicker is that these two perspectives are not at the conscious level. Look back at your strategies to see which group is yours. Today, I’m addressing the group who has difficulty taking consistent action.

Do you have the perspective that you need to do things perfectly or else you have failed? Here’s one way to recognize if this is your perspective – you will avoid either starting or completing things because you would rather not take action than to fail or get it wrong. Think about that for a minute. Many times you avoid even setting goals because if you don’t have a goal, you don’t have to take action. If you don’t take action, then you can’t be wrong. The question of it being perfect or a failure will not occur if you don’t take action.


For those of us who have this perfect-gene, it can be a challenge to take risks, even small ones. You set yourself up for inaction when you frame an outcome as a failure unless you do it perfectly. Remember, much of this belief is below the surface and you may not even be aware of it. What if let yourself set a goal and remained curious about the outcome? You will be able to take action more consistently when you bring this perspective to a conscious level.

Can you remember a time you became so overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of a project that you simply shut down? What if you were able to create a way to look at things with fresh eyes and without judging yourself as lacking? Next time break down the plan into easy to do tasks. See each task as an individual, complete task. Only look at the task at hand – one task leads to the next and the next and the next and finally to completion.

What they say to you

You fall into the perfection category if people routinely say, “You’re so hard on yourself!” You almost won’t be able to understand what they are talking about because it’s your go-to. This week notice when you stop yourself from taking action. Is your inaction related to the belief that unless you can do it perfectly, you shouldn’t do it at all? You might resist even recognizing this pattern.

I remember my brother saying that I was a perfectionist. I vehemently denied that because I see myself as a free spirit who flies by the seat of my pants. Then when I looked at it more deeply, I saw that sometimes I put enormous pressure on myself to do things perfectly. It can be confusing because in some areas of my life I am very specific. Then in other areas of my life, I am not even close to needing things to be perfect. Case in point, my kids would always ask if company was coming when I was cleaning the house, oops.

If your underlying pattern is one of not taking any action rather than getting it wrong, it’s time to reframe. Can you shift your perspective to one of, “Hmm, what small action could I take that would lead me in the direction of the result I am looking for?” Let yourself risk taking action. A decision is just a decision, period. It’s an opportunity to learn how something works, or not. Either way it’s information to use moving forward.

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