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Did you know you might be a perfectionist if you are a “non-starter?”

We talked about this in the Rediscover You workshop I attended this weekend, led by Monica Packer. Monica Packer is an entrepreneur who started out by overcoming her own perfectionism, which led her to use her new-found freedom and voice to create a popular podcast called About Progress, among other successful pursuits. Monica is about empowering people to overcome perfectionism and the barriers that stand in the way of their progress. I really enjoyed being inspired by Monica and connecting with a community of “fellow Progressors.”

So back to this non-starter point. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. When I got tickets to this workshop, I honestly didn’t think I “needed” it as I believed I had completely out grown my perfectionism. I was really going for networking purposes.  I honestly see myself as an evangelist for “embracing our humanity” and take pride in the lessons we can learn from allowing ourselves to be messy, imperfect humans.

But this non-starter point struck me…hard. This describes me in a lot of ways. The story I’ve been telling myself for years is that my life is too chaotic with little kids for me to step more fully into my dreams and ambitions. I feel protective of my role and time as a mom and have built some good boundaries that allow me to be pretty active in my children’s life while also working part-time. This feels like a personal truth, not just a story.

But what is also true, is that I want more for myself. I have visions of where I want to take my career and how I want to more effectively help people on their own journeys. Each year I witness myself downshifting more of this side of me to create more space for my family’s needs.

While it is important to me to do my very best to meet my children’s needs, I also know it is important to honor my own. If I don’t meet my own needs, I won’t have the reserves or capacity to be there for my family the way I want to. Each year I watch more and more of important parts of me disappear and I’ve begun to wonder if they’ll disappear completely?

But I never considered that an underlying process to this was perfectionism showing up in a new way. Because the dreams I have feel BIG and SCARY. It feels vulnerable to even acknowledge them to myself. It’s only been recently that I’ve been more open with close friends and colleagues about my dreams. But because I have this big wish, the fear of failure looms large. Immediately an inner-asshole-voice shouts, “Who the hell do you think you are?”

But Monica shared a very helpful perspective for me to digest: I am focusing too much on the outcome. Monica said, “It’s so much easier to become a martyr than to become the hero, who fails frequently, of my own story.” It so much safer to just let myself get caught up in the busyness of life and not start making the progress I want. She pointed out that a difference between a Progressor Mindset and perfectionism is that self-worth isn’t dependent on the outcome. A Progressor roots their values and mindset in grit, determination, discipline and passion, recognizing that the power and growth is in the trying.

As part of the workshop, I created a bit of an action plan to move forward with my dreams. This felt like a step in an important direction for me. I commit to continuing to lean into this so I won’t be a martyr of my own story or let perfectionism hurt my life again. I know this will require balance and mindfulness with my other roles, but I am excited about the passion, growth, and re-connection with myself that awaits!

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