I was recently asked by a journalist for some tips on how to help someone deal with their fear of being imperfect.

My short answer was to get clear on your intentions for others and this will help get your focus off your imperfections and more on your ability to take intentional action to improve the lives in some way of those you interact with through your various personal and work life relationships.

Easy to say, not necessarily so easy to do.

Living a life where you can accept your imperfections takes personal courage, and you can find that personal courage when you’re clear on your intentions for others in the relationships you have in your personal and work life.

You’ve got to realise that there are so many forces of perfectionism trying to trap you into the belief that being perfect is possible and enticing you to pursue being perfect. Remember, the purpose of marketing and advertising is to ‘sell’ you a product or service, and one of the key ways to do that is to show you what you lack, and to entice you to do something about it.

Being bombarded with all the noise and challenge to be better… to be perfect, our conscious minds get filled to the brim, where logic is replaced with capitulation, which causes us to rely on mindless habits where mistakes are made, often leading to feelings of guilt, shame, or other inadequacies.

It’s easy to say stop reading beauty magazines because they’ll only make you feel ugly. Stop listening to motivational gurus getting you to compare yourself to the amazing feats of mountain climbers, corporate zillionaires or enticing you to walk across hot coals to prove you can do ‘it’. Stop watching TV advertisements reminding you that you’re too fat, not eating healthy, not doing enough exercise, not a good parent, not a good person blah blah…

But the reality is this. There will always be someone better, more beautiful, thinner, taller, richer, successful, than you. The real problem is that it’s a natural part of the human condition to compare ourselves to others – and that’s a zero sum game.

However there is a solution, and it’s refreshingly simple – not easy, but simple.

When you get clear on your intentions for others, your bigger WHY (your positive motives, to in some way help others, that forms your potential choices and actions), it helps you to get clear on what you can promise. Intentional promises lead to more understanding expectations by others, and when people understand your intention is to genuinely help them in some way, you feel more confident to take intentional action which will lead to more intentional results.

Sure, you still might get the ‘self-talk’ putting you down, challenging you that you’re not good enough, that you haven’t researched enough, that you haven’t got it exactly right… but that’s just self-talk. Sure you might not feel so positive about taking action because it’s not just right, or your not perfect, but that’s just a feeling.

Intentional mindful action is the enemy of the fear of imperfection. It’s like a muscle – the more you practice it, the more you take intentional action despite your feelings of imperfection, the stronger your intentional action muscle gets and the more easier intention can do battle against and defeat, the fear of imperfection.

Taking better care of ourselves, intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually is often triggered when we focus our intentions on how we can help others. Rather than striving for perfection, we strive to do our best for others, and in so doing, we do our best for ourselves as well.