For me, perfectionism is a result of operating from fear rather than operating from commitment and purpose. I'm afraid if I don't get something perfect I won't gain acceptance or external validation that I'm good enough. I listen to what the fear tells me to do rather than what I am committed to. I listen to the fear as if it's a real person! And the truth is, fear isn't alive! It's not real! Operating from fear is like trying to navigate without a compass. The fear tells me which direction to go because I don't trust my own thoughts or purpose. When I am directed by fear, I have no true north.
Sometimes fear is a valuable survival mechanism. Scared walking past that dark alley? A valuable fear! Fear of not taking action on an idea because it might not be perfect? Not productive. Recently I was starting a really big project that had lots of steps that needed to be done in a specific order. I couldn't get myself to do the first step because fear had me so wound up about making a mistake that I couldn't act. I was desperate for outside validation that I had done things correctly and was moving in the right direction. At the same time I was terrified of getting feedback for fear of rejection. The result? Inaction. My perfectionism had resulted in me doing nothing to move toward my goal because I didn't trust my own thoughts or opinions.
I've been working with my coach on this issue. She asks me, "What am I committed to?" Am I committed to my fear? No. I am committed to my happiness.
If I step back from the fear and assess the outcome of happiness as my desired state of being (rather than perfection), I land in an entirely different head space. Making progress on my project is a step that contributes to my happiness. I am confident in my purpose. And being confident in my purpose leads to being able to trust myself. And when I trust myself I don't need external validation to make me feel good, I feel good enough on my own.
Finding purpose and committing to that purpose derails the cycle of perfectionism. It takes courage to act based on your own commitment and purpose. It takes courage to trust yourself that your commitment and purpose are valuable and worthy. Building the courage to act on your own commitment and purpose is like strengthening a new muscle--lots of repetition is required.
So how am I fighting the good fight against perfectionism? I'm actively working to pump up my self-trust muscles. I am daily building my confidence by taking action and growing my courage. I notice when I'm delaying action in service of getting something perfect and make a choice to take action. I keep doing the repetitions of trusting myself. I am committed to happiness rather than acting from a place of fear. I just keep moving.