This is Part 2 of the Escape Perfectionism series.
Soooo, after reading Part 1 of the Escape Perfectionism series, you have an idea of how perfection can ruin your life and you should now be moving from denial to acceptance, right? If not, go back there now and start over. LOL
See, our society have led us astray, bamboozled and hoodwinked us into believing that perfection is something we should strive for, seek in others, and internally maintain. Some people even believe it’s a healthy method to goal achievement that produces higher quality outcomes and keeps us striving for higher standards of living. I might agree, then, it’s a good thing in that case.
But when you’re a perfectionist, it turns into an obsession and it seems like nothing can ever be as perfect as you’d like. You know what I’m talking about…where everything you do consists of demanding a higher level of performance than the situation dictates, procrastination sets in because you’re not satisfied enough, and ultimately stalling yourself because it’s NEVER perfect.
The problem with perfection is that it can never be truly attained. So, in pursuing perfection, not only are you doomed to fail, but in the end, you also might have nothing to show for your efforts.
One of my best buds, Andrea Amir, Head Chick in Charge of Smart Money Chicks (and she is a VERY smart cookie I might add) once told me, “Keep trying to be perfect and you’ll never get anything done.” (paraphrased)
5 Ways to Escape the Need to be Perfect
Pay attention, soon-to-be-recovering-perfectionists! The following tips can help you escape your need to be perfect so you don’t let the pursuit of perfection destroy your happiness, your relationships, and your overall productivity.
1. Give yourself a break. Eliminating the urge to have everything be perfect takes time. It probably won’t happen overnight or you would have done it already. It’s important to set reasonable goals, start slowly and congratulate yourself for each victory, even the teeny tiny ones – especially the teeny tiny ones!
2. Provide everyone else a break, too. You know how perfectionists do…They not only try to be perfect themselves but also expect the same from others which is an ugly attempt to control them. This is when huge disappointment sets in and relationships are lost. Your task: Make others feel great instead of judging them and wanting them to live up to your idea of perfection (which as we know most likely doesn’t exist anyway)!
3. Learn how to see all the variations. Just because something is less than 100% doesn’t mean it equals zero. That’s an overly simplified way of dealing with the world. I see you, perfectionists. *insert eye rolling here* You think that 99% is an epic fail. However, I challenge you to avoid viewing everything as all-or-nothing. Learn to understand when something is good enough and then move on to the next thing. Spending more time or effort than necessary is far from being perfect. If you think about it, perfectionism is a way of being excessive and inefficient.
4. Realize that most mistakes aren’t fatal and are your friends. Nearly any mistake can be rectified. When things go in an unplanned direction, go with the flow. This can be challenging for a perfectionist. So here’s what you can do: Avoid letting your emotions lead you to a negative, unproductive state when a “mistake” is made. Instead, be proactive and start coming up with solutions that will still take you to your goal. They may include a temporary detour, or take longer than originally planned, but the end result will be worth it.
5. Don’t use perfectionism as a way to procrastinate. Now THIS was my Achilles’ heel! I used to put off sooooo much stuff because I thought it wasn’t good enough. “It could be better,” I’d say. But guess what? All those years of putting stuff off because I kept thinking it could be better had halted my progress. I’ve found though that getting started and making a few mistakes is more preferable than doing nothing at all or getting started too late.
Perfection vs Productivity
So I want to touch on something else important for perfectionists to realize.
Remove the idea of perfection from your mind and you’ll see your productivity ramp up! For example, an average written, but complete, book can be published. But a perfectly composed book that’s only half finished is essentially worthless. Of course, there’s a middle ground between average and perfect. And that terrain includes excellence.
But the world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity. And productivity can only be achieved through imperfection. Make a decision. Follow through. Learn from the outcome. Repeat over and over and over again. It’s the scientific method of trial and error. Only by wading through the imperfect can we begin to achieve glimpses of the perfect.
Over to you…
Can you see how living the perfectionists lifestyle can negatively impact your life? There’s nothing wrong with perfectionist tendencies, as most of us have them, but you have to learn to let go of your need to be perfect all the time. You’ll be more pleased with your life and feel much happier. Your loved ones will be happier, too! 🙂
Everything is perfectly imperfect.
Are you a perfectionist? What are you doing to get control of your perfectionist tendencies?
Keep this party going and read the other articles in the Escape Perfectionism series…