Is Perfection Holding You Back?


When I was pursuing dance and dancing professionally, I didn’t take chances-not most of the time anyway…

I would stay in the back of the room and unless I felt I had mastered something, I wouldn’t put it out there for all to see.

Mostly, I was afraid of embarrassing myself. I also wanted things to be closer to perfect before their debut.

Now, looking back I think this hurt me much more than it helped. I progressed more slowly and didn’t gain the confidence necessary to really thrive in this career.

It also made those moments when a guest choreographer beckoned you to the center of the room incapacitating. I would freeze.

By making mistakes, you learn incredible things.

You might make a new discovery about how a certain step works for you. Taking imperfect action builds confidence. You’ll start to see that just by moving forward and trying, things start to come together.

Taking imperfect action is going to propel you forward. The thing about “being a perfectionist,” which so many dancers wear as a badge of honor, is that it can be totally paralyzing.

Of course, aim for excellence BUT remember that when you put yourself out there and just try, incredible things are possible.

body positivity movement

This is true for food and your body goals as well…

Trying to make the “perfect” choices with food is dangerous. You might think you must eat “healthy” food only. What tends to happen with that approach is you end up vilifying the sweets or treats you love. They get labeled as “bad” or “off-limits,” and then you try to avoid them at all costs.

Then, when you get around them (at the holidays, birthdays, or celebrations), you feel out of control or super uncomfortable. You might binge or go overboard.

Allowing indulgences and figuring out what balance looks like for you is going to lessen the stress to be perfect with food. Then, you can focus on enjoying the tastes of your meals. You’ll be able to eat healthy foods you enjoy and the treats you consider special.

Check out this related post :   Analyzing the nutrition label.

Auditions are right around the corner…

It’s possible auditions are already on your mind; it’s possible you’ve even started planning for or filming your audition video. Those audition conversations have definitely started among my clients, so I feel the weight of it all. It’s a new year with even more unknowns than usual.

With audition season comes a fresh wave of the need to be perfect. You might tell yourself that if you make a mistake, you won’t get the job or spot at the intensive. Remind yourself of your humanness. You will make mistakes. The best dancers do! It’s how you respond to them that makes the difference to a prospective artistic director.

Practice moving through the exercises that challenge you with grace and taking your missteps in stride. That way, when the pressure is on, you’ve ingrained a positive and productive response when you do make a mistake.

The writer Margaret Atwood said, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Amen, sister! If you wait for perfection, you’ll probably still dance some steps but you won’t feel the pure joy and elation in the movement.

When you’re caught up always looking for what’s “wrong” you miss the opportunity to feel freedom in your dancing.

Yes, there are always things to work on and improve upon. That is the beauty of this art form. But perfect isn’t possible. It doesn’t really exist. When you acknowledge that it’s an illusion, you can instead find the joy in the work.

If you’re feeling stuck in the pursuit of perfection, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. Is this pursuit a positive one? How does it make me feel to obsess over perfection? What would happen if I let go a bit and tried to focus on the joy of movement? Do I need to seek outside support to release the perfection obsession?

Check out this related post :   Time to get back in dancing shape.

Use those prompts as a jumping-off point. Finding balance with food, your body, and your dance pursuits allows for so much more freedom.

Releasing perfection puts you in the driver’s seat.

When you let go of the need to be perfect, it’s empowering! You’re in control of your life, and you won’t feel compelled to try to be anyone but yourself. Embrace your gifts and imperfections. This too is a huge determinant of confidence. The more you accept yourself as you are, the more your confidence grows.

When you stop obsessing over perfection, you’ll become more confident. 

Take imperfect action – perfection is holding you back
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Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

2 thoughts on “Take imperfect action – perfection is holding you back

  • December 21, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Love this post!

    • December 21, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Aww, thanks Macyn!! I’m so glad – it’s so important to remember. I used to be paralyzed by the feeling that I had to stay within what I knew I could do. It’s so important to move past that and TRY!! xo


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