“I have to get everything right, or my business is going to fail!” Have you ever thought that? When I was first starting my business, I felt stuck, confused, and unsure about what to do next. I put so much pressure on myself to get it right. At the time, I was going through a huge personal transformation. I was finally healing from trauma I experienced in my childhood, and that healing process brought up unresolved feelings of shame.

So there I was, finally processing these deep and hard feelings, working full-time in a corporate job, and trying to satisfy this deep calling I felt for starting my own business. I knew I was made for more than working in Corporate America. To add to it, the company I was working for told me I had to move across the country in 5 months. I was certain I didn’t want to do that. I knew I needed to stay close to my family for support and healing. 

How I internalized this – I have 5 months to get my business up and running, so I have to get everything right, and do it QUICKLY. No pressure, right? 

Well, putting this pressure on myself, striving for perfection and thinking I had to get everything right absolutely paralyzed me. I couldn’t seem to make a decision. Everything seemed foggy – I had no idea what to do. And of course, not doing anything just led to more anxiety and shame. 

What a vicious cycle. 

Perfectionism leads to procrastination. When you put too much pressure on yourself or a decision, you create fear of making the wrong choice or of failing. Brene Brown describes perfectionism as “often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis”. She also says that perfectionism is often rooted in feelings of shame. This was true for me.

So, how do you break that cycle? Here are a few things that worked for me. 

1. Change your mindset and focus on the positive

I know – this is a cliche one. But it really does work. Focusing on the positive things in your life, on everything you DO have, on all of the resources that are at your fingertips will help you realize you are better off than you might think.

For example, the thought that was causing me so much anxiety was, “I ONLY have 5 months to get my business up and running.” That is so much pressure! 

As I reflected on my situation, I realized that I could instead look at my situation as, “I have 5 WHOLE months to lay the foundation of my business before I have to make any decision about whether to move or quit my corporate job”. I didn’t have to move tomorrow, and I didn’t have to make any big decisions in that moment.

In that present moment, I was living exactly where I wanted to live. I had support around me. I knew what I wanted. I was planning and learning about my business. I had time. Once I stopped giving myself an enormous deadline, I was able to build my business from a relaxed and empowered energy.

2. Try things without expectations 

When we put expectations on our actions, we create fear that the expectation won’t be met. When I let go of expectations, I just started moving. I took a deep breath, asked myself what I should do next, and did the first thing that popped into my mind without assigning it any meaning. I just started trying things, with no expectation that it would or would not work. 

When you try things, you start learning what works and what doesn’t work. And then you start doing more of the things that work. Little steps create little wins, which turn into bigger steps and bigger wins. Movement creates flow. And flow leads to breakthroughs. 

3. Fall in love with the journey 

Life is, after all, about the journey, not the destination. There will be ups and downs in your business journey. Successes and failures. Embrace them all. 

In his book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck says, “We are guaranteed winners once we simply realize that everything that happens to us has been designed to teach us what we need to know on our journey. Now what better news can there be than that we cannot lose, we are bound to win?”.

Every roadblock you meet is there to teach you something, to make you better. Don’t resist those roadblocks – embrace them! View those challenging moments as opportunities to GROW. Say to yourself, “Okay, roadblock. I see you, I accept your lesson. And now I will move on as a smarter and better person.”  

Appreciate the things you learn, the people you meet, the way you are growing and becoming better and better. Fall in love with the process. 

So, as the famous saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Strive for momentum, not perfection, and fall in love with the journey.

Wishing you all a wonderful journey,

Amanda West

P.S. If you are struggling to break free of the shame – perfection – shame cycle, reach out to learn more about how my business mindset coaching can help you move forward or sign-up for my weekly newsletter for free, encouraging tips.