One of the key challenges in today’s fast-paced world is the search for “perfection” in our day-to-day life.
We train ourselves to believe such thoughts like, “Once I get the job role I want, with the income I need, doing meaningful work and receiving the significance I deserve from my company and peers… then I will be happy!”
“Once I get the perfect house in the perfect postcode with the perfect street appeal and ‘storybook’ facade… then I will be happy!”
“When my partner understands me and my kids acknowledge what I am doing to provide for them the perfect upbringing and lifestyle… then I will be happy!”
We sell ourselves the story that once we have these “things”, we will be happy! Once everything is perfect (whatever perfect means), we will be truly happy! We have aligned our ability to be happy with “achieving perfection”. Yet how many people ever truly find perfection in the three key arenas of life — workplace, headspace and at your place. It’s a “set-up” within a game you rarely can win!
‘We should be seeking progress, not perfection’
A better focus is to seek progress in these three main areas of our life! It’s is our focus on perfection that stops us from progressing. We will only try something if we know 100 per cent it will work out and be the result we truly desire. Yet it is in the trying and often in the failing that we discover our greatest gifts and talents. Sometimes the greatest gifts in life come wrapped in disappointment, frustration and anger.
What we fail to recognise in these experiences is that our emotions, our sadness, our frustration, our anger all contain really useful data. What we can learn from a failure or loss can really put us in a great position to progress to another level if we understand the reasons for the failure.
‘Winners are unafraid to lose’
When you are feeling guilty as a parent spending too much of the home time catching up on work, it really doesn’t mean that your guilty feeling is right. Emotions are data, not directions; beneath that guilt is often a sign that you value being present and connected with your children and that you have failed to implement a work/life balance in that moment. When you catch yourself in that experience, ask yourself the question: “Will it really matter five years from now if I get the report in a day later?” If the answer is no, then engage with your family and find out what’s most important to them at that precise moment.
It’s possible that five years later, your family may pinpoint that conversation as a life-changing or defining exchange. And no economic success can pay for that sense of accomplishment you would feel as a parent or life partner.
Having a high work ethic and being positive in a career you loathe can also halt your progress. You can get “faked out” by justifying the pay packet or suggesting to yourself, “It’s only for a year or two”. You keep at it and then five years later, you finally realise: “I’m in the completely wrong career and I’ve lost five years of my life”. You failed to recognise that your frustration is telling you maybe you are in the wrong role, field or industry.
When we delay acting on our difficult emotions, we fail to learn from them and recognise that those difficult emotions contain signposts to things that we truly value.
If we can pay attention to the data, we can adapt. If we can learn from the experience, we can progress. Where our focus goes, energy flows!
By making a few changes to your mindset, you can set yourself up to reward effort and output as opposed to only seeking perfection. The lessons contained in your failures can actually fast-track your success. There are no failures — just learning experiences!