5 ways to embrace anti-perfectionism and welcome the new you

Set yourself free from unnecessary limitations, with these life-changing tips

It can be easy to think that if we aren’t going to do something perfectly, there is little point in trying. But there’s a fresh perspective on the scene. Anti-perfectionism teaches us that, when tackling any task, we can be happy to learn slowly, through trial and error, and by making mistakes. We can be as pleased with the processes as with the outcomes, and the imperfections in our work become stories, memories, and trophies.

I have recently begun renovating my home, something I never could have done without embracing anti-perfectionism. So, what has it taught me? Sometimes, we put our desires to try something new on hold because we feel inhibited by expectations (both other people’s and our own). Letting go of these expectations can be both challenging and freeing. Anti-perfectionism can help us to get started, here’s how to embrace it.

1. Establish your reason

When taking on any task, it is always helpful to start by considering your end goal. Your reasons for starting a task, new project, or picking up a hobby might be to learn the processes involved, to save money, to enjoy the experience, or you might really want to have a go at making something instead of buying it.

None of these objectives requires you to become an expert, they are all about something other than achieving an immaculate outcome. Anti-perfectionism allows us to create or enjoy without the pressure of expecting perfect results. It’s about doing your best, making improvements, and enjoying yourself.

2. Use what you’ve got, start where you are

Think about your starting point: what do you already know about the task you are taking on? Have you seen other people doing it? Can you use any skills you already have?

These start points are useful in helping us to accept our limitations. Without the pressure of the ‘right’ way of doing something, you can be creative with the ways in which you do things – learning through trial and error.

Stepping back, looking at what you’ve done, and making small improvements as you go, can help you find joy in, and be grateful for, your efforts.

3. Set reasonable goals which acknowledge your own skills

Allowing yourself plenty of time, and giving yourself permission to make mistakes, are wonderfully aligned with anti-perfectionism. If you have never done something before, it’s unreasonable to expect mastery or expert results in record-breaking time.

Anti-perfectionism lets us choose to hire a professional if that’s what suits us, or, if we want to do it ourselves, we can work slowly, celebrating progress along the way. Before you start, think of the things you are good at, or really enjoy. How can you use these in your project?

Break away from unrealistic expectations that our blankets must be matching, hand-crafted, and perfectly square, or that our homes should be immaculate all the time. We can work on organic veg patches and still enjoy fish-finger sandwiches for dinner.

4. Enjoy the process

There are things we can do to make sure processes are as enjoyable as outcomes. Taking ‘before’ photos, or creating mood boards before starting a project, can be super encouraging, as can focusing on emotional outcomes, like joy, mindfulness, and pride, as well as finished products. How does your project look before you start? Remember, you are aiming for better, not perfect.

Some tasks are mundane, but having something fun to focus on can make the process more enjoyable; a killer soundtrack or podcast can help!

Before you start, ask yourself which parts of your project you’re expecting to enjoy the most? If delayed gratification is your thing, save these parts for later in your project; if you need quick wins, move them up the list.

5. Celebrate your successes

Good enough is good enough. Anti-perfectionism gives you space to celebrate things that you have done well, enjoyed, and achieved. You can embrace the things that haven’t gone to plan, don’t look like textbook versions, or that you struggled with.

At the end of your project, revisit your reason or your mood board. Are you pleased with what you achieved? Did you enjoy yourself? If you wanted to make something and you made that thing, that’s reason enough to be proud.

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