There is a simple yet profound attitude shift that can make all the difference in how you feel about yourself as you focus on achieving your goals. As a recovering perfectionist (is there a 12 step group for us?), I have experienced great relief in shifting my mindset from “be good” to “get better.”

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Photo by scott1723, shared via Flickr

The “be good” attitude is focused on performance. When you approach your goal from this perspective you are out to prove and validate yourself and you are aiming for a very specific outcome. You hold a high standard for yourself (and for others) and  you judge your own innate value by your success. Not reaching your goal might just mean you are unworthy. Shame and self-doubt are the shadow sides of the “be good” attitude and you will do anything to avoid them. And yet, you create them by holding such a high (and sometimes unreasonable) standard for yourself. You tend to procrastinate or give up more easily to avoid not looking good.


Photo by Bill Gantz, via Flickr

The “get better” attitude is focused on growing and improving. Each mistake you make is simply an opportunity to learn. When you hold this mindset about your goal you are more curious, ask for help more easily and are able to be more creative in your course corrections. Because you are improving rather than proving, you are less likely to blame your challenges on your own self-worth. And, you take more action because failure is less terrifying. When you are gaining mastery instead of proving yourself, you are also having more fun in the process!

“So when you find something relatively easy to do, its very motivating to focus on giving the best possible performance and validating your goodness…A very different picture emerges, however, when the road gets rockier–when people are dealing with unfamiliar, complex or difficult tasks, with obstacles or setbacks; that’s when the advantage of focusing on growth over glory becomes clear.” -Heidi Grant Halvorson from Succeed, how we can reach our goals.

My life coaching clients are experiencing less anxiety and are better able to tolerate setbacks when we take the “get better” approach. They are experiencing more joy in the growth process and are able to be loving and compassionate to themselves (and others) along the way. And, the icing on the cake is they are achieving their goals with more success!

What about you? Would you like to let go of trying to prove yourself and experience more ease as you learn and grow? My upcoming coaching group for women is all about achieving your goals in a sustainable and self-affirming way!