Is Perfectionism holding YOU back from happiness in your work and relationships?
Perfectionism….it is a bit of a buzzword and let’s face it…..in our fast-paced, “fill all of your time” North America culture….isn’t there a small part of us that admires the idea of the “perfectionist”? Isn’t it often the “go-to” answer in a job interview when asked about our weaknesses? Don’t we look at awe at the super Mom or the person who constantly has somewhere they need to be?
We equate our perfectionism with success.
But, perfectionism comes at a heavy cost……it can stops us in our tracks…..it makes us constantly question ourselves and keeps us from trying new things.
And it’s exhausting……
There’s the fear that if you aren’t your perfectionist self – then who are you?
There is a good chance you identify yourself as someone who “does it all” and does it all on-time, error-free and to the highest of standards.
But, letting go of perfectionism, does not mean letting go of the pursuit of excellence in your work, your hobbies and your relationships. Letting go of perfectionism means shifting from unhealthy habits to a place of more fulfillment.
So what are some small steps you can take to start moving beyond the habit of perfectionism?
Delegate…..a word perfectionism resists with all its might. What do you mean delegate??? I am fully capable of doing it all and that way I KNOW it will get done……..sure, but is the attachment to being the “one who can do it all” worth the constant exhaustion this level of control involves?
Start small and choose tasks that are not particularly meaningful to you.
And, most importantly……give others a chance……well, give them several chances-especially when it comes to laundry! If you have a habit of taking on too much and setting extremely high standards for those tasks, delegating is going to feel very uncomfortable to you AT FIRST.
Know this going in….people are not going to do things exactly how you do them and that’s ok! Moving beyond perfectionism is learning to accept that there are different ways of doing things. Yes, I know the hairs on my neck are raised as I read this too! It’s a process!
But, delegation has huge payoffs. It allows for time and energy for things that motivate and engage us. It makes room for tasks and projects that are of higher priority to us. And I think most importantly, it makes those around us feel more included, more valued and more understood.
Kick the “should” out of your inner-conversation
Notice when and how often “should” floods in to your mind.
A personal example comes to mind.
Sunday morning is a point in my week where I am pretty much “done” with being in my house. As someone who works from home, it is simply time for a change of scenery.
One of my favourite Sunday morning activities is to jump in my car alone, grab a coffee and just drive. It is how I recharge, where I do some of my best creative thinking and “reset” for the week ahead.
But, most of the time I fight myself on taking this time out. The “shoulds” take over and my mind is flooded with things I “should” be doing instead!
When you try to take a “time-out” does your mind do the same?
Practice following your first instinct when it comes to recharge activities. As a perfectionist you likely have a habit of resisting them and building these into your life will actually make you more productive, more creative and more ready to take on new challenges.
Watch for “over-systeming”
Perfectionism loves order.
However, our need to create and have the perfect plan in place before we start a project can stop us right in our tracks.
We can find ourselves in the cycle of creating the system that then requires another level of systems that then requires another system…….you get the picture!
So, how do we deal with this?
Awareness is key.
If you are beginning a new project and you feel yourself getting caught up in “the plan”, known to your perfectionism as “the perfect plan”, take one small ACTION step. Action is perfectionism’s kryptonite!
Action creates momentum and stops self-doubt. Action moves us into a place of learning and adaptation. When stuck in the planning phase, everything is speculation. Action will help you create “the plan” is truly makes sense for you, is flexible and adapts over time.
And as you get in to the practice of taking action the more willing you are to do it again and again.
These are only a few suggestions for moving beyond perfection. It is not easy stuff. It takes time, patience and perseverance to create new habits. Perfectionism does not happen overnight. But you CAN create lasting change step by step.
Elicit the support of others! Perfectionists Unite!
Use humor – laugh at yourself once in a while!
Celebrate your willingness to make change!
And if you need some help, a coach can help you identify what you want to change, how you can best get there and how you can maintain change over time.