Perfectionism vs. Enjoyment
As adults, it’s very hard for us to not be “perfect” at what we do. Perfectionism. That’s often why we don’t try new things, stay in our comfort zones, don’t play “full out”, or even just enjoy the process while we’re learning. What if we look silly, what if we got hurt, what if we don’t look good?
I was a classical pianist when I was a teenager. I played every day for 2 hours and performed/competed in music competitions and was fairly good. However, after high school I stopped practicing regularly and went from being a good pianist…to definitely “a not so good pianist.” If I sat down to play a song, I would make a lot of mistakes. So I stopped entirely. Even though I have a gorgeous baby grand in my living room, I didn’t enjoy not playing well. And heaven forbid anyone asked me to play for them – not a chance. Then I would look really incompetent.
However, recently, I started wanting to play again. I sat down, and made a zillion mistakes with a song I used to know by heart. Some friends asked me to play for them – no way. Then I heard my own voice one day talking to my Caliente Zumba students…”Don’t worry about getting the routine correctly, just have fun, as long as you’re moving – it’s all good! When you start to “let go” and stop worrying about what you look like, that’s when it comes. Come to 3 classes and be willing to feel awkward initially – after 3 classes, muscle memory will kick in and your body will start to move naturally in it’s own rhythm…you’ll start to feel your own groove.”
What if I did that with piano? What if I sat down and played to enjoy, not to hit notes perfectly? What if I got into the emotion of the song and forgot about playing the wrong chords? And most importantly, what if, when someone asked me to play, I did it for my own enjoyment, rather than “performing” for them?
Wow – what a change. I now sit down and am present in playing. I enjoy the emotion of the music, the sensation of the keys under my fingers, the sound of the melody and the rhythm of the left hand. And after 3 times of doing this…I even started making less mistakes. Oh, the power of listening to our own advice to others… :-)
So, how does this apply to everything to everything we do?
- What did you enjoy as a teenager that you could start doing again? I recently was talking to one of our Live Well Coaches in Denver and she has started singing again – she used to love that as a teenager. For me, playing the piano again has brought a lot of joy and ironically, with my new approach, is also a great stress reliever.
- What areas of your life are you “less than perfect at” right now, that you could stick with, through the learning process? A new fitness class, presenting a seminar, falling off the health wagon… they all apply. Dive in, get back on the wagon and be willing to go through the learning curve. The ONLY way we get better is through doing. It’s perfectly normal to crawl and fall down before we walk, or run for that matter.
- What new skill are you currently learning that you could just enjoy the process with? Forget about looking good or being perfect – how could you just enjoy the journey? For me, it’s speaking in front of 10,000 plus people – so I focus on enjoying it, giving to the audience, “going towards the roar” and having FUN with it.
- What do you not do because you don’t want to look incompetent or silly? Practice not caring. Some of the people I most admire are those that just dive in, regardless of what they “look like”. When I teach my dance classes and see someone “free dancing,” not caring what they look like – I know they’re going to be great at dance. It’s all about letting go and not being attached to how you look – but to how it FEELS. Just have FUN.
- What if you applied this to your whole life – stopped being so hard on yourself, enjoyed the process, had fun, and even risked looking silly sometimes. Enjoyment versus perfectionism has the power to change your whole being and gives permission to people around you to do the same thing.
Your Action Plan for this week:
- Do ONE new thing that you may not be perfect at when you first try. For example, all my clients that have promised you would try Caliente Zumba but haven’t yet – this Live Well Strategy is for you. I know why you haven’t come yet :-) Of course, anything applies though – look for something that you know takes you out of your comfort zone. Practice not caring if you look “less than perfect” – it’s liberating, trust me.
- Choose one thing that you’re currently learning and focus on enjoying the process, not the outcome (i.e., the joy of playing the piano rather than how it sounds to others.)
And my commitment to you, if you ask me to play the piano, I will. I may still be a little nervous…but that’s the point isn’t it? Feel the fear and do it anyways…and have fun. :-)
Be Happy… Be Vibrant…