This piece was originally created for Dream Nation’s monthly newsletter.
I have a confession, I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Not long before I started Dream Nation life forced me to learn a lesson that changed my life: “Done, is better then perfect.” Growing up my Dad instilled in me really high standards, both in the way I regard myself and how I approach my work. I know this sounds great, but like all things when taken to the extreme it becomes harmful. Through no fault of his own, I started holding myself to impossible-to-reach standards and I suffered for it.
Over time I realised the hours that I was putting into trying to make something perfect was in reality just another form of procrastination. I was wasting my own time, and we all know that time is the most valuable asset as we can never get it back. My to do list was over 1,000 items because trying to do each task perfectly was taking hours, and so much emotional and mental effort. The truth was, I would never be happy with the result. In fact, what probably hurt the most was that all that extra effort rarely paid off.
Being a perfectionist sets you up to fail before you even start, because perfection is a standard which can never be reached.
How to let go of your perfect guilt
If this sounds like you, don’t worry there is hope. My advice: start by letting go of the guilt.
When we really dig deep, we often find that our motivation behind our perfectionism comes from negative places such as fear, pride or a feeling of not being good enough. Instead, try to be driven by passion for your work, love what you do and see it as another way to express yourself. Seeing our work as self expression is powerful, because just like us our work doesn’t have to be perfect for people to love it.
To give you some really practical advice, give yourself a few rules and guidelines to follow. For example, one of my rules is that if a task can be done 80% as well by someone else, then they should do it instead of me. I’m often surprised that when you give others this type of freedom, they produce work which is far better than what I could have produced myself. Another rule I use is allow my perfectionism to be fed in rare cases. For example, I’ll be a perfectionist about the design of certain pages on the Dream Nation website, but then be really relaxed about pretty much everything else.
Dropping perfectionism has honestly changed my life for the better. I’m happier, I’m far more productive and I have way more time on my hands. I really encourage you to do the same.
Claud Williams is the Managing Director of Dream Nation, a holistic personal development brand. Our mission is to empower a generation to be practical about the pursuit of their goal through education, community and technology.
You can find out more about Dream Nation and read more editorials via our website: Dreamnation.co.uk