To be honest, that all sounds quite stressful. There’s been plenty in the news this year about mental health issues in the workplace and in the home, with an estimated 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health issues in a given week. Other factors aside, your aspirations to be perfect only add to the daily stressors of life.
Striving for perfection is something that is taught from an early age. If you don’t get those A’s in school and college you won’t amount to much and you won’t get to go to the best university; you then won’t get a great job. And if you don’t get a great job, you’ll never get that perfect partner, who won’t then be able to realise your dreams of a perfect marriage with the perfect house and the perfect kids… Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Well, it’s preposterous and that’s the reality some of you live in. You’re not machines, you’re only human!!
“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” - George Orwell
How many of you have achieved great success in life and are still unhappy? How many of you are in great careers but still don’t enjoy what you do? How many of you are financially secure and yet still don’t know what your purpose is in life?
What if you’ve just been chasing the wrong thing? Rather than perfection, maybe you should be chasing excellence. In fact, that’s something I aspire to in all I do. But there is a big difference in trying to attain perfection and striving for excellence.
Trying to attain perfection is being goal-orientated vs. being process-orientated I striving for excellence.
Rather than focusing on the ‘what’ you want in life, focus on the ‘how’ you want to live your life. Though Simon Sinek talks about the ‘Why’ of leaders and organisations in his book ‘Start With Why’, it’s just as important as individuals for you to understand your ‘why’ to help ‘how’ you want to live.
It’s only through finding your ‘Why’ you’ll truly get what you want in life and how you wish to achieve it.
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” - Michael J. Fox
Understanding how to live your life the way you want is striving for excellence. So, how can you do this? Being coached really kick- started my own transformation and below I’ve distilled 5 key points which I to apply to myself as well my own coaching clients:
1. Get Uncomfortable - There’s a great quote by the American writer, Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Some of you may be in a routine and this routine level of comfort is something that you may have looked to attain. But routine prevents growth. You need to learn to break cycles of habits that stop you from moving forward. Just try to do something different, something small (like saying hello to a stranger, taking a different route to work, trying a different morning routine) on a daily or weekly basis and see what you notice.
2. Play - As you grow older, you get stuck in certain work modes and you forget how to play. I’m not talking about recreational sports here; I’m talking proper kids’ play. It’s the lack of play that stymies creativity. Without creativity you don’t realise what you want out of life. By being more playful you can become more creative. Try this; pick an everyday object, a paperclip for example, and list 20 uses for it. I’m sure my 10-year-old could come up with a list quicker than most adults. As Ken Robinson says, “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human nature.”
3. Network Equals Networth - Jim Rohn quoted that, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Taking this into context on why you may be feeling directionless or without purpose, it may just be that you’ve not found the right 5 people yet. By broadening your circle of influence, traveling more, joining different social groups and attending a variety of events will allow you to meet different types of people. How about signing up for a meetup next month to something that you have found of interest in the past but not pursued?
4. Educate Yourself - “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice”, from Napoleon Hill is very much true. Some of that sacrifice is more often than not in broader education. To become a top medical professional, a wealthy business owner, a champion sportsperson or to achieve the upper echelons of any profession you may have only focused on what you needed to get you there. So, to get somewhere else requires more learning. Be it reading books or articles, listening to podcasts, attending workshops, watching educational Ted Talks or inspirational videos on YouTube. Simply try by curating your own Ted Talk playlist or watch one of the ones they have already.
5. Be Present - Stopping chasing perfection and striving for excellence starts by being present. Being wholly focused on the future does not endear you to what you have in the present. Learning to be grateful for what you have achieved and to what has brought you to this moment is very powerful and humbling. There are many things vying for your attention in this always-on digital age, but you can use this technology by practicing a short 5-minute mindfulness exercise using an app on your smartphone — download a
mindfulness app today and try it out.
Rather than worrying about trying to get your life perfect, use these 5 strategies to kick-start a new you. A new you that is more focused on enjoying life rather than worrying about being good enough. And if you are struggling to understand your ‘Why’ reach out to me to see how I can help.
“Perfection is impossible; just strive to do your best.” - Angela Watson