It is said that a job worth doing is worth doing well and I agree, but it does not have to be, nor can it be, perfect.
Do you find your urge for perfection slows you down – or even stops you in your tracks?
You are not alone. A large percent of the population suffers from perfectionism. You may think it’s odd that that’s actually a condition to suffer from, but the fact is that striving to be perfect can be holding you back.
Pursuing excellence is a much healthier goal, but you need to let go of perfectionism to attain it.
NOT REALLY PERFECT
Perfectionism is not really about being perfect – is that even possible?
It is more about having unrelenting high standards that intrude on the productivity and joy of your life, and often others around you.
Perfectionists tend to judge their self-worth based on these high standards and find themselves, and others, fall short constantly.
It’s almost a form of self-sabotage.
This can lead to some very negative consequences.
If practice makes perfect, then only failures can lead you there.
If you strive for perfection you spend a lot of time trying to achieve the unattainable and you find you are always short of time.
For instance, I have several friends who not only colour code their clothes pegs when hanging out their washing but also have to ensure each item is equally spaced and aligned.
They will constantly tell me how they have run out of time to do things – hang out the washing as it takes so long – other household chores because they’ve taken so long to hang the clothes, or general life enjoyment because of the extra time spent. Is this you?
I have other friends who get sick with stress when going to work for fear of making mistakes and choices that are not perfect.
You may, in fact, put certain tasks off as you know you will not reach your impossibly high standard and will then have to listen to your negative self-chatter.
You may avoid some things altogether if you feel you cannot nail them perfectly the first time.
I knew one young man who refused to try new things because he couldn’t do them ‘right’ the first time.
You may find it really hard to make decisions and spend a lot of time on this process for fear of not making the perfect decision.
In fact, fear of not getting that decision perfect may force you to seek constant reassurance from others before committing to anything.
IMPACT ON OTHERS
This perfectionism can have a really negative impact on other people too if you judge them by your own high standards.
You may find you cannot help but take over tasks and refuse to delegate. I see this happen a lot when people are dealing with children and it can be soul-crushing for the child – particularly if it involves a creative pursuit.
As an art and crafts teacher, I cringe when I see others taking over a creative venture because they think they can do it better. What a horrible message that is sending out!
Unfair and unrealistic demands mean people will not want to be around you, as a co-worker, or a friend.
OTHER NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
Other negative consequences could include excessive organisation – spending more time planning than doing, overcompensating when you feel you are not doing a good enough job and even hoarding can be a symptom of perfectionism.
HOW DO WE CHANGE?
Changing lifelong habits can be really challenging but if you work on it your quality of life will be vastly improved.
Your relationships will be more harmonious and you will have more (and happier) time.
9 WAYS TO BECOME EXCELLENT -AND LET GO OF PERFECT
- The first step in changing behaviour is becoming aware of it in the first place. Ask yourself if your expectations are harming your joy and if the answer is ‘yes’ then be mindful of this characteristic so you can catch yourself in the act and work on it.
- Start from a place of love and respect for yourself. One of the easiest ways to achieve this, if you haven’t done so already, is to write down 5 reasons you are grateful for YOU every day. This exercise will make you see what a wonderful person you are, and how much you have to offer the world.
- While you’re writing things down, why not take a goal stocktake (use the steps in my post 7 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Right Now). This exercise may help you see that a lot of your stressing and obsessing is related to things that are not part of the big picture in your life.
- You will also be able to celebrate your success and appreciate other people’s success using the methods outlined in that post.
- You can also work on accepting mistakes. Add a bit of silliness to life. Get a colouring-in book and go outside the lines, then create a whole new picture; purposely hang something crooked on the line and see how it dries just the same as the other items.
- Ask yourself; “will this mistake mean the end of the world”?
- Laugh; step back, take the time to laugh at the mistake, then decide whether to transform it or trash it and start again.
- Turn your failures into stepping stones for success.
- Finally, move on and let it go. If you delegate a job it is no longer your responsibility, so butt out and let others get on with their work.
Visit the Centre for Clinical Interventions for more information on perfectionism and how it can negatively impact your life.
Are you a perfectionist? Let me know in the comments.
Wishing you excellence and a gleeful week, Tamuria