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Is it perfectionism or fear of failure?

by Ashlee Tate
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Are You Sabotaging Your Own Success?

Could it be perfectionism or fear of failure leading to your sabotage?

We’ve all heard someone say, well I’m a perfectionist. I always hear people say this as if it is a badge of honor but when I hear it, I hear, I’m really afraid of success.

Even though in this video we are going to decipher between perfectionism and the fear of failure. I believe both begin from the same root with different manifestations, a fear of success. Success brings about change and a level of expectations that many of us fear.

By sabotaging your success under the guise of perfectionism or fear of failure, we are able to avoid the very thing we fear. Success.

This week I asked the question for the tribe members to think about: What is the hardest part about communicating your brand to the world?

One of the answers is what actually spurred on this video: I sometimes get into the details too much and it acn sometimes take me longer to pitch my video or post, etc.

Reading between the lines I encouraged him to analyze whether he considered himself a perfectionist or if he considered that fear is actually what is delaying him in pitching his videos.

It is really a matter of splitting hairs when you think about the differences between perfectionism and fear of failure because it all boils down to the act of sabotaging the very things that will lead to your success and fulfillment.

So how can you tell the difference between perfectionism and fear of failure?

Now, I’ve never referred to myself as a perfectionist but while creating this post I realized a personal example that should be shared.

I love to write.

I know I’m not great at it but when I have the opportunity to sit down and flesh out my ideas I will do it. However, it just seems that I NEVER get the opportunity. With laundry, kids, other responsibilities, I wasn’t taking the time to complete the task that could uplevel my success online. The one task that could make me findable or searchable. I was sabotaging my success,

What is perfectionism?

Noun: Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection

In my case, I knew that my writing wouldn’t be perfect because “I’m not a good writer” at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last 38 years so why would I even try, it won’t be perfect?

Sound familiar? Have you ever had this conversation with yourself?

“When fear is driving, Shame is always riding shotgun”

Dr. Brene brown

What is fear of failure?

There is actually an official name – Atychiphobia

Let’s continue with the writing example. Not only would I procrastinate, but I would also OBVIOUSLY do a poor job so that I had an excuse for my failure to strive for perfection. Do it ‘under the gun’ so you have a reason for your sloppy work.

I was trying to avoid the shame of sloppy work under the guise of ‘just getting it out there’

Now, I do want to pose a caveat here: I swear by progress over perfection. So if you have to choose sloppy but done or perfect and incomplete (PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE), I will always choose the former.

Oftentimes, Perfectionism or fear of failure can manifest as one of the following:

Procrastinating and running out of time to complete the job adequately-Sloppy but done is better.

Last-minute physical symptoms like a headache that stops you from completing the job- Sloppy but done is better

Worrying about if you are capable, sloppy but done is better.

Once I was given permission to just write in all of its first draft messiness without even thinking about editing, I found the fulfillment and permission I needed to be okay with ‘sloppy but done’.

Are you waiting for permission?

If so, here’s your sign!

Strive for Excellence NOT Perfection!

-Ashlee Tate

8 Ways to get over perfectionism or fear of failure

  1. Set deadlines and call your project done anyway!
  2. Ask a friend if your standards for tasks are unattainable.
  3. Challenge yourself to find at least 3 positive things in everything you do.
  4. Start by achieving small goals and building up over time to reduce the pressure.
  5. Recognize that mistakes are not a failure. Mistakes allow for growth.
  6. Understand what failure actually looks like.
  7. Understand that you have a fear of failure, recognize and accept it. NOW move on.
  8. Focus on what you can control and nothing else!

Fear of failure and perfection are both related to fear and shame. They stem from an insecurity in ourselves. Instead of focusing on perfection, shift your focus to excellence. Excellence makes us reach for success while perfection makes us avoid fear. Let’s aim for growth rather than avoidance.

It’s true that we all hate to fail but some of us fool ourselves by calling our fear of failing by the more socially acceptable term, perfectionism. In order to combat the fear, you have to acknowledge whether you are fighting perfectionism or fear of failure. Both require a mindset shift towards excellence and growth!

If you’re still doubting yourself after today’s post, go check out this video on Fear and Self doubt for 20 positive affirmations

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