Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

January 29, 2021
Done is better than perfect
healthy woman celebrating success

Inaugurating my “upgraded” e-newsletter last week launched me into a full-blown case of my congenital perfectionism.

Good EnoughI try to live by “done is better than perfect”, but it can be challenging.

In his book “Brain Blocks: Overcoming the 7 Hidden Barriers to Success”, Dr. Theo Tsaousides identifies perfectionism as one of these barriers. Of all the “brain blocks” he discusses, perfectionism is the most insidious because it “sounds the least like a problem.”

After all, in my case, you *do* want your doctor to strive to get everything right, don’t you?

Add to this that *both* of my parents are doctors! People have joked for most of my life that I had no choice other than to become a doctor.

When I was in college, I wanted to become a nurse practitioner for two reasons:

  1. I was inspired by Helen, a nurse practitioner I met at the student health center where I volunteered, and
  2. My favorite part of what I do involves teaching – educating – and this is a central focus of being a nurse of any kind.
Dr. Liz Lyster Med School Graduation

With my mom at my medical school graduation, 1990

It was my mom – a pediatrician – who encouraged me to go to medical school. In the grand scheme, it has served me well that I followed her advice.

This set the stage for “upping my game” – for setting and meeting high challenges for myself. However, it also set the stage for holding myself sometimes to an impossibly high standard.

From Dr. Tsaousides, I learned there are two main reasons that perfectionism is actually a *block* to success:

  1. “Perfect” does not have a clear definition. I absolutely experience this. I want so much to bring you an excellent reading experience, that I pressure myself every waking moment to do better. This can be exhausting!
  2. “Perfect” is relative. It changes with the circumstances. What is “perfect” in one set of circumstances might be terrible in another setting. What is perfect for me is often not perfect for others.

I’m learning to break through this “block” by following some of the strategies in this book. Here are some of these strategies:

  • I am working very hard to establish my priorities. My husband and I call these our “big rocks.” In this way, rather than Dr. Liz Discussing Insurance With Her Patienttrying to get every little detail of my day exactly right, I end the day with more of a sense of accomplishment when I have made progress on my “big rocks”, my most important priorities.
  • I am learning to pay attention to milestones along the way, rather than only feeling successful when I get to the final goal. For example, while my goal is to have these e-newsletters written far in advance so I can coordinate them with bigger world themes and my social media posts, it is a milestone achieved that I have gotten this “Friday Flash” out for 2 weeks in a row.
  • Last, for now, I am learning to count my blessings rather than my mistakes. I am a champion for my patients. Sometimes I see them criticize themselves, and I give them pep talks to lift their spirits (in addition to helping them balance their hormones!).

What if I were to be a champion for myself as well?

My ongoing quest to “upgrade” this year will give me the chance to deepen my own learning. Thank you for coming on this ride with me!

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