Strategies to Overcome Perfectionism
Perfectionists feel they have to be the best at everything they do. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, and many perfectionists excel in their fields. But perfectionism has a downside. When a tiny setback feels like a major personal failure, that’s when perfectionism becomes a problem.
Perfectionists often hold themselves, and others, to unrealistic standards that can be the source of conflict and problems. Let’s delve a little more into the reasons behind perfectionism.
Perfectionism is often routed in fear – fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of being vulnerable, and more. This can lead to perfectionists stalling or delaying things as they struggle for perfection, and then they can find themselves in a spiral of procrastination.
If your drive to be perfect interferes with your ability to get things done, and ultimately achieve your goals, you need to address the issue and take some steps to change.
Perfectionism vs Aspiring to be Your Best!
There is no work of art in any museum that is perfect. Every famous painting has blemishes that only a trained eye can spot.
If you examine the Mona Lisa (considered by many the greatest painting in history) with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, you’ll find the artwork consists of over 40 layers of paint. It has flaws, but if Da Vinci gone beyond the 40th coat, he could have lost the subtlety of human expression, for which the painting is famous.
Perfectionists tend to hyper-focus on even the tiniest of flaws, but when you concentrate on things you’re unable to do perfectly, you often end up doing nothing at all, or producing a sub-par result.
Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable. Instead, aspire to be your best and do your best.
Strategies to Begin to Overcome an Obsession With Being Perfect:
Break it down.
Rather than imagining your project as a perfect whole, view it as a series of well-designed, interlocking pieces.Focus on completing each step, and you’ll find the process is smoother. Do not worry about the final outcome, but rather concentrate on doing each task well.
Running a marathon requires putting one foot in front of the other, and doing it again and again, approximately 46,000 times. You may not run a perfect race, stumbling or having to walk sometimes, but if you keep your mind on the immediate task at hand, you create forward momentum. You’ll have less time to scrutinize the overall project, because you’ll be immersed in the present moment.
When you find yourself stressed by individual steps, break down the task into even smaller chunks. Complete the next action without rushing. Take it step-by-step. Chip away at a large project without agonizing over whether it's perfect.
Think in gradations and gradients.
Gray is not black, and one point below 100% is not zero. At the end of the day, only you know how much work you put into a project. Be your own authority, congratulate yourself on your effort.
You learn and grow most of all, as a result of your missteps. All-or-nothing thinking is unproductive, as it allows for only two possibilities. Life isn’t an all-or nothing proposition.
Embrace your sense of humor to defuse your need for perfectionism.
Laugh at yourself, and start to see beyond a single viewpoint.
When you find humor in failure, you can objectively analyze the reason, and learn from it.
Life isn’t perfect, and neither are you. Give yourself permission to let go of your perfectionist ways.