Do you want the best in everything at all times? You may suffer from perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a trait that can steal your joy, self-confidence, passion, self-acceptance, your ability to get things done and your ability to grow. But why is perfectionism such a thief?
If you are a perfectionist, you are never satisfied with the quality of your work and strive to achieve perfection in everything you do. Oftentimes you keep working on your project over and over again until you are finally satisfied. To a certain point, striving for perfection can be a good thing as it adds quality to your work, but if it becomes an obsession and you can not let go until you achieve unrealistically high standards, perfection can kill your dreams.
If we were to re-rout our pursuit for perfection, would the world come to a screeching halt? Or would we benefit by freeing ourselves from the shackles of perfection?
We need to let go of the notion that the opposite of perfection is mediocrity or imperfection. The truth is, the opposite of perfection is reality and possibility. Letting go of perfection doesn’t mean you try to take away your drive, ambition or desire to succeed, it’s about striving for excellence while trying to preserve your sanity. Fact is, when our expectations for perfection don’t match up with reality — and when do they ever match up — we get stuck, depressed, blame ourselves and give up.
Living in reality with our flaws, mistakes, hiccups and wrinkles instead of trying to be perfect gives us the possibility to persevere and keep going more effectively. Yes, reality can be tough and it’s hard when attempts fail, but this only makes us more resilient and successful in the end.
Perfectionism is a trait that we acquire from our social interactions. Luckily it is not something that we were born with, so if we have the desire to overcome perfectionism, it is possible with perseverance and persistence. Here are our TOP 10 Tips to overcoming perfectionism.
#1 Recognize Perfectionism
The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to recognize that you are a perfectionist. Some people may not even know that they are perfectionists and just tell themselves that they are striving for excellence and just have very high standards. Identify if you are a perfectionist by asking yourself the following questions:
• Are you afraid of failure?
• Do you have trouble meeting your own standards?
• Do you see mistakes as failures or stepping stones?
• Do you have unrealistic expectations?
• Is your self-confidence tied to your accomplishments?
#2 Learn How to Handle Criticism
Let’s be honest, nobody likes to be criticized. However, if you learn how to take criticism by evaluating where the criticism is coming from and then being able to identify anything that you may be able to take away from it to improve yourself, you win. Really look at the source of the criticism, sometimes you just need to let it go and discard the criticism as unhelpful and forget about it. You need to realize that there will always be people who will disagree with you and criticize you. Instead of trying to avoid any and all criticism, learn how to handle it and your life will be a lot easier.
#3 Differentiate Between Healthy Striving and Perfectionism
Striving to improve yourself, whether that’s professionally or in your personal life, is a great thing. However, you need to recognize that there is a difference between healthy striving and perfectionism. Strive for excellence, but be happy where you are right now and know that you can be even petter. Perfectionists on the other hand think they have to achieve a certain goal or standard first to feel good about themselves. The difference is that healthy striving is all about honoring yourself for working on achieving your full potential, while perfectionism is about dishonoring yourself by only acknowledging that you are good enough if you have achieved certain things.
#4 Set Realistic Goals
As perfectionists we tend to set goals that are unrealistic and completely out of our reach, which only causes us to get angry and frustrated, if our goals stay far away in the distance. The simple solution is to set realistic goals that are just out of your reach, but with a little stretching you are very likely to succeed. Once you reach the realistic goal, set another goal that’s a little farther away and you’ll have to stretch yourself some more, but it is still reachable. Continue this way and you’ll realize that you have made quite a bit of progress along the way.
#5 Try New Things
Perfectionists have a huge fear of making mistakes, which only holds us back. Remember, making mistakes is how we learn and grow. Being able to tolerate and handle mistakes is an important part of innovation and risk taking. One way to learn how to overcome your fear of making mistakes is by trying out new things. When you are learning something new, you can’t be perfect, yet. It’s just the opposite, you’ll fall and make mistakes. If you allow yourself to make mistakes in an area in which you are new, you will become more comfortable with making and accepting mistakes in all areas of your life.
#6 Learn to See Life in ALL Its Shades
Do you really believe that anything less than 100% is zero? An all-or-nothing approach isn’t an accurate, sophisticated or perceptive way to evaluate life. Learn to see gradations, as most things are relative. Don’t just see the world in black or white and recognize that sometimes good is enough and move on.
#7 Enjoy the Ride
As perfectionists we tend to keep our eyes firmly focused on the prize, the destination. That’s all that really matters to a perfectionist. But with that focus on the end goal, we fail to enjoy the ride. To overcome the shackles of perfectionism, keep in mind that the destination is just the cherry on top. The journey is the ice cream, the whipped cream, the fudge and the caramel. Learn to be in the moment and enjoy what you are doing right now. You may not be able to run a marathon every day, but enjoy and feel satisfied when you run a few miles in the park.
#8 Respect and Love Yourself
Perfectionists tend to have a lot of negative self-talk and neglect to take care of themselves, especially when things don’t go according to plan. It’s easy to sacrifice your well-being because you put your work above everything else. For example you sacrifice your sleep in order to meet deadlines and complete your work, putting your health at risk. You have to put yourself in the highest regard first and don’t allow your goals and aspirations to take precedence over your self-love and self-identity. Respect yourself and your needs while at the same time respecting and valuing other people’s needs. Learn to love yourself and your flaws, as you love others without any conditions. Stay dedicated to your goals and dreams, but without compromising your own well-being.
#9 Value Your Relationships
Perfectionists tend to value work more than their personal life and relationships. But this is poor judgment. While it is important to be dedicated to your work, life doesn’t just revolve around it. You have family, relationships, people you love. Sometimes doing well at work is driven by your love for your loved ones. In the end, one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and spent more time with the people I love.’ Make sure you find time to work on your relationships and spend some quality time with the people you love. Not only will it be beneficial for your relationships, you can also recharge and refuel by incorporating some ‘play’ time in your life so that you are more productive at work.
#10 Delegate and Let Go
As a perfectionist, it is usually hard to work with other people. You may be under the impression that it will be faster and easier to just do everything yourself, that way you know that everything will be done exactly the way you want it. You will also save some time because you don’t have to deal with telling others how you want things done or deal with mistakes or communication breakdowns. Realize that it is impossible to do everything on your own, especially when you want to scale your level of productivity without working yourself to death. Find the right people who understand you. Train them and then delegate and let go.
Refuse to allow perfectionism to run your life and start to apply these 10 tips. If you can let go of perfectionism, you won’t sweat the small stuff or the big stuff and life becomes more adventurous, rewarding and exciting.
FREE YOURSELF FROM THE NEED FOR PERFECTION AND LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE
Joschi & Monika