A Coaching Power Tool Created by Megan Bautista
(Life Coach, AUSTRALIA)
Often times when a client is reaching out to a coach for help, it is because they have not been able to achieve something that they wish they could. Whether this be starting something, finishing something or simply doing something, it can be difficult to identify exactly what is getting in the way. In my own experience, I have dealt with perfectionism for pretty much the entirety of my life. As we all know, perfectionism can be detrimental to getting things done as it creates an impossible standard or level that is forever unattainable. Perfectionism on many occasions has prevented me from reaching my goals and simply moving forward, which is why I have spent quite a lot of time focusing and working on how to overcome this mentality and shift my perspective from perfect to good enough. I hope for this to be an area I can help others in through my coaching practice.
The word perfect I believe can mean something slightly different to each individual and can affect people differently. When I think about perfection in my own mind, it means putting 100% effort in and getting 100% back. It is about the effort I expect myself to put in but also expecting that the result will reflect this. Clearly, this is unrealistic! You cannot expect yourself to put 100% effort into every single thing you do and equally expect that you will have a 100% result. Things simply do not work like this. If we were able to do this, it would essentially mean that we aren’t human! Being ‘perfect’ can be an incredibly frustrating mentality and perspective and can prevent people from achieving their goals and overcoming challenges. Perfectionism often results in an ‘all or nothing mentality’. How many times have you had the thought – if I can’t do this task properly, I won’t attempt it at all! This can be extremely detrimental when you are not quite where you want to be in terms of progress or even the starting point of any journey or challenge.
In situations when perfectionism is getting in the way of starting, finishing or achieving a goal, a ‘good enough’ mentality can be really healthy. ‘Good enough’ for the purposes of this power tool is to shift one’s perspective from 100% to 80%. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you put 80% of your effort into achieving a goal, it means thinking about outcomes as 80% rather than 100%. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10 kilos in 10 months. You think this means I must lose 1 kilo each month. By the time you get to the 5th month, you’ve lost 4 kilos instead of 5. Perfectionism tells you that this is absolutely not good enough and you should have lost 5 kilos by now not 4. Even though you’re so close to your initial progress goal, you throw the whole goal out the window and decide you can’t reach the 10 kilos in 10 months and need to have a binge this weekend. You self-sabotage because the perfect goal is now unattainable. Good enough perspective, on the other hand, would look at the 4 kilos that have already been lost, acknowledge the progress that has been made and the fact that you have come so far already and can keep going, even if you lose 8 kilos overall instead of 10 by the end of the set period.
So how can perfect vs good enough be used as a power tool in coaching? Perfect vs good enough can be incredibly powerful when a client has very high expectations of themselves and of outcomes.
Good enough can be so helpful in many situations. It can mean starting that book you’ve always wanted to write by knowing that the first draft is not going to be 100% and may take a lot of tweaking before it can get there. Good enough is giving something a go and being okay with an 80% outcome rather than an unrealistic 100% one. Just like the saying ‘do my best and forget the rest’, ‘good enough’ focuses on the effort rather than the outcome and being realistic about the aftermath. Good enough is also about being okay with not being 100% all the time. Again, let’s say you set yourself a goal to go to the gym 5 times a week for one month. The first week you go to the gym 5 times and you are very happy with yourself. The second week you manage to get to the gym 4 times. A perfect mentality would say, 4 times is not good enough I missed one day and therefore I give up and no longer want to go through with this goal. Instead of realising that you were only going to the gym once a week prior to this goal and have already made significant progress, you decide the week was not perfect and end up not going to the gym for the rest of the month and beating yourself up. Good enough would place the focus on the fact that you still went 4 times instead of once, and next week you could try again for 5 times or adjust the goal to 4 times if that is more achievable. Good enough focuses on the achievements that have been made, perfect or not, and acknowledges that we cannot be at 100% all the time, effort or outcome wise.
Good enough can help a person to undertake the steps required to achieve a goal that may feel unattainable or extremely hard or far away. Good enough focuses on the journey rather than the end outcome, and focusing the mind on progress rather than perfection.
Key Questions & Reflection
- What are the areas in my life that perfectionism is getting in the way of?
- What are my beliefs, values and assumptions around perfectionism?
- Am I comfortable with being good enough?
- What does good enough look like to me?
- What would you do today if you knew you could not fail?
- What is the worst possible outcome?
- What am I afraid of/ what are my greatest fears?
- What is getting in the way or holding me back?
- What do I need to believe to achieve my goals?
- What can support me in overcoming perfectionism?
- What can help me focus on good enough?