Recovering perfectionist: The 5 steps to avoid overwhelm in business

As a recovering perfectionist, I know how it can feel overwhelming to feel stuck in the weeds, short in time and scattered when it comes to your to-do list and wanting everything to be perfect. As a recovering perfectionist I am here to share the 5 steps to avoid overwhelm in business.

Do you feel like this? You are running around all day long, juggling, hustling in your business and life, without clear intention.

Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with not knowing where to start to implement systems and spreadsheets.

You feel you’re stepping into the powerful slipstream of anxiety, fear, worry, conflict and FOMO.

So as we are again in lockdown in Sydney and you may be in lockdown as well as you read this, I’d love to share some tips on how to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

You may want to have a read of my previous article about messy and imperfect action as well. Let’s unpack more!

What are the types of perfectionism?

There are three types of perfectionism you might relate to. These types are identified in this article as it represents clearly the work from Hewitt, P.L., & Flett, G.L. (1990). Perfectionism and depression: A multidimensional analysis. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality.

Let me give you a summary of each:

Self-oriented perfectionism is when we hold things to a high standard and is related to greater work productivity and success. These include “I try to be as perfect as I can be”, “I feel uneasy when I see errors in my work”, “I must work to my maximum all the time” “I have very high standards for myself”.

Other-oriented perfectionism is when we hold others to a high standard and think being judgmental and critical of others is ‘normal’. These include “I don’t work with people who won’t strive to be the best”, “I can’t stand it when people make mistakes”, “When I ask people to do things, I expect perfection”.

Socially prescribed perfectionism is that we are driven by the pressure to be perfect. This includes: “I find it difficult to meet the expectations of others”, “THe people around me are good at everything and I am not”, “I feel people put too much pressure on me”, “My family expects so much”.

What one do you resonate with the most?

The 5 steps you can implement NOW to help with perfectionism and overwhelm

Step 1: Connect with your body wisdom

When you’re moving forward with a project, a decision, embracing a growth opportunity, you may feel overwhelmed or scared to take action.

Connecting with your body is the first step to making sure that it is aligned. This is a practice that I call: a full body YES. If it is not a full body yes, then it is a NO.

How to do it, very simple: close your eyes once you’re in a comfortable position (seated or standing), take a few deep breaths (at least 3) and quiet your mind.

Drop your head in your body (you can bow your head to send the signal) to be fully present.

Then ask yourself: Do I really want to do this?

Connect deeply with your body, and in a few seconds do you feel a sense of moving forward, expansion, lightness in your heart, your chest? Joy? Excitement?

OR do you feel a movement backwards, a subtle retreat, a contraction or heaviness in your heart or chest? It can be a subtle energetic whisper of no or yes but.

Your body has this innate wisdom that you need to connect with more.

Really notice the first thing you feel even if it doesn’t seem logical.

As Frederick Nietzsche would say: “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy”.

Step 2: Stay in your zone of genius

As mentioned in one of my previous articles it is important to focus on what you’re good at.

And focus on the small steps aligned with your vision, avoiding the big drama.

For instance:

Automating can look like a workflow in your email sequence. I use Katra and I love how everything can be tracked in it. I am always looking for ways to automate things or make them easier for me!

Delegating can be supported by an SOP (standard operating procedure) for carrying out the task. This is a step by step written document of exactly how to do a task. Here is what I have done to delegate:

  • Back in April 2020, when I created Essential Shift, I knew from my past three businesses how painful it can be to create a nice website. I knew it was not my zone of genius and it would take me hours. So I asked one person in my team in corporate if she could recommend anyone and she told me she had a side hustle and could help me. Isn’t it divinely guided? So she did it for me. We were working in corporate and outside together and it was so much fun.

  • When I started Essential Shift social accounts after a few weeks, yes only a few weeks doing a few posts on Instagram, I said out loud: “I am sure someone out there knows how to do that better, more efficiently”. A few hours later I received an offer from someone in my network offering 6 hours of mentorship for free to trial her offer. It was divinely guided and I accepted the help. Then I hired her to carry on working on my designs, the set up of my funnel and back end system.

  • A few months later, in September 2020, when I set my mission to March 2021 (going all in with Essential Shift) I hired the Content Queen, to up level my content strategy, be more consistent with my blogs and my overall content. I totally recommend Mariah and her team.

  • And in January I hired a VA.

5 steps to avoid overwhelm in business

Step 3: Do a deep work session

When you went through step 1 and 2, you would have deleted, automated and outsourced what is not in your zone of genius and you would have planned a time in your calendar to do what is in your zone of genius, so what new tips do we need to embrace? The ability to do deep work.

I was embracing ‘Deep work’ before discovering Cal Newport’s work on this concept. I encourage you to read his book if you haven’t already, I loved it.

Deep work will make you a lot better at what you do. It allows you to achieve more in the smaller amount of time and provides the fulfilment you need (and the fulfilment that comes from being a master of a skill). Most people have lost the ability to go deep and spend their days in the world of social media scrolling and ‘email catch up’ without realising there are better uses of their time.

For me it means having the ability to focus and complete a demanding task without distractions. I would do a ritual to put my whole self into the right headspace to start a deep work session.

And I’ll also shut down notifications and emails, put on headphones for my hubby to know that I don’t want him to distract me and a timer to do the task in a set time and accept that it is finished when the timer is finished.

To put it simply, when we develop a deep work practice, it can be the best choice you make in this very distracting world.

Step 4: Embrace the mantra 'progress over perfection'

You’ve done all the above but you still catch yourself getting stuck into the perfectionism sinkhole. You are afraid to release what you’ve created during your deep work session.

Create the following table to reframe your thoughts between perfectionism and progress:

5 steps to avoid overwhelm in business

You will feel self-doubt. It is all about embracing it. This is a sign of progress, of stepping into your growth.

Turn this self doubt into productive actions. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, pull a card, sleep on it, drink a glass of water. Allow yourself to feel it and then ask yourself: what’s the right next step? Use that feedback or insight, what’s the learning?

Step 5: Be patient

"Rome wasn't built in a day" is an adage attesting to the need for time to create great things. It is the usual English translation of a medieval French phrase, “Rome ne fu[t] pas faite toute en un jour, from the collection Li Proverbe au Vilain, published around 1190.

The modern French form is «Rome ne s'est pas faite en un jour».

If you keep repeating yourself: 'I’ve been working on my ______ [business, promotion, books, memberships, etc.] for at least ______[24 hours, a week, a month, a season, a year, a decade, etc.] and I’m going nowhere'.

You are not embracing the trust that it will take as long as it does. Honour your progress, your achievements, take time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished.

And also look at successful other entrepreneurs or leaders in your field, how long did it take them.

Cultivating patience is often hard but it is in trusting that the universe has a different timing.

Final thoughts

As I’ve mentioned before many times, rituals and intentions setting are essential to avoid overwhelm. You can explore my rituals guide to learn more about it and listen a previous podcast episode I have done with the "Recovering Perfectionist Podcast".

If you are curious to learn more about these practices and how to align, start or grow your business without feeling overwhelmed, join my Soul+Biz alchemy as I guide you through a blend of spiritual and strategy practices to expand your biz without burnout.

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