Tips for How to Let Go of Being Perfect

So this past weekend, I gave a talk at a really cool event for women entrepreneurs about how to let go for love and business … it was so much fun. But let me tell you: There’s nothing like having to get up on a stage in front of a crowd of people to set off your inner critic. You know, the one that reminds you of all your shortcomings and tells you that you need to be perfect in order to be taken seriously.

I must say, I’ve gotten pretty good at letting go of those voices, but this perfection one really is a bear, huh? Are you with me? When those big moments come your way and suddenly, every negative voice you’ve ever heard in your life starts screaming at you from the inside? If so, I get you!

When that happens for me, I take a very long, deep breath and settle into reality: That not only is perfection unnecessary and overrated, it’s also impossible. I also remind myself that nobody expects me to be perfect (except maybe my mother, but that’s only because she hasn’t yet accepted that she’s imperfect), and if they do, well, that’s on them.

And if that’s where you’re at too, I say this: Whoever put it in your brain that you had to be perfect—your mother, your favorite magazine, an old boyfriend or girlfriend or boss—wipe it out instantly.

Let go of the need to be perfect. Because we all know you’re not. We’re not either.

Case in point: As you may well know, when I was 41, I was in a relationship for 12 years and still single. Still lived alone. Still didn’t have kids. I was 20 pounds overweight. In a job that didn’t send me. My skin was blotchy. The seventies called and wanted their Farrah Fawcett hairstyle back. I couldn’t shake my pizza addiction. It seemed like it was always 18 degrees outside and my heat was out and the dog needed to be walked.

My life was a lot of things, but perfect wasn’t one of them.

Still, I tried to put on a good show. Put so much pressure on myself for years to get “more perfect”, that I almost gave myself a nervous breakdown. In looking back, I now ask myself why? My odds at perfection were horrid. I was looking at a 100 percent failure rate.

That’s when I decided to stop judging myself. Downgraded the need to be shiny and awesome and helpful and positive and self-sacrificing all the time. I released other people’s voices in my head begging me to do better. Instead, I embraced my own which said, “Hey, you’re cool…”

Then things changed for the better. Suddenly, I could resist pizza. I even bought one of those puffy coats which may not have been so flattering, but it sure was warm.

Listen, perfection is tempting. It’s like dating the cutest, most popular guy in high school. But you won’t succeed there. Trying to achieve perfection is like jumping out of a window in an attempt to fly: Never gonna happen.

I can attest to this personally: I eat two calories a day, intermittent fast, and walk three miles every morning. And last week? I lost 1/13th of a pound. You’d hardly recognize me.

Let’s just give it up, okay? Here’s how I’m doing it (on most days, because I’m not perfect)…

  1. Change your narrative. You can tell yourself anything you want about yourself, no one will know or care. My dog looks at me every day like I’m Angelina Jolie, and who am I to correct her? (Even though Angelina Jolie desperately needs a sandwich and I don’t, so let me think about this…)
  2. Tell the people judging you to go pound sand. Nicely, of course. But at the end of the day, you’re just not that important them. Oh sure, they may momentarily comment about that spinach in your teeth, but whatever. If they’re judging, it’s because we are mirrors for other people and you’re just reminding them of something they’re not. Their issue, not yours.
  3. Re-frame the moment. Remind yourself every time you can’t find the sunglasses resting on your head or put the creamer in the dryer, that you play a mean piano. And that you’re a good person. (And if you’re not, stop that.) Stay focused on all that you are – and not all that you aren’t – and I promise you, you’ll be a lot happier. And if you need to get rid of the scale to be sane, just do it already. Your life, your rules.

If you need more of a reason to lose perfection from your vocabulary, consider that being imperfect is way more fun and interesting than being perfect. I know, I’m an imperfection consultant. And it’s not what life is about. Instead, stand tall and proud in all your glorious imperfection.

Trust me on this one.

How about you? How are you dealing with the need to be perfect? I’d love to know!


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Watch Jill’s TEDxWilmington Talk: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go

Learn more about Jill Sherer Murray:

Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

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