The pitfalls have been ever-present, particularly for women. Maddening media images, perpetuated cultural ideals and our own ingrained messages can bombard us with the golden ring of perfection. From how we look to the choices we make in our careers and families, that golden ring can often feel like a lock shackling us to perceptions and expectations.

Thankfully, a shift has begun. Learning the first lessons of perfect, right and should – perfect is the enemy of the good and done; there’s no one right way; ban the shoulds from your life – made a difference. Easing the pressure on the ideal, we could embrace the virtues of balance, choice and flexibility. But blurring the lines left a void, however, like an animal released from its cage that never ventures beyond the confines that no longer exist.

Understanding the flip side of perfect, right and should can help channel the energy pent up for the pursuit. While these expectations halt progress, choice and intention – it is important to look at what they can fuel and understand what can help us make the shift.

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.Vince Lombardi

Perfect – As a singular, unattainable idea, perfect can leave us frozen in fear and inaction. Yet, when we are able to embrace the ideal as a goal to pursue, we can strive for excellence and see perfect as the inspiration for our process. We can celebrate our pursuit and our progress.

Right – As a judgement, where the flip side is wrong, right can be a mallet we wield at ourselves and others. As a guide to inspire a proper sense of justice, it can help us make difficult decisions.

Should – When used to define and confine us to obligation, should can leave us vulnerable to the pervasive threat of resentment. When exercising healthy intention, we can savor the benefits of commitment.

So, what’s the key?

Trading comparison for compassion – for ourselves and others – opens the door to move beyond fear toward opportunity. Embracing these ideals with a generous and compassionate spirit can inspire and guide each one of us on our own incredible journeys.