Is ‘Perfectionism’ stopping you from reaching your goals? 3


As I mentioned in the previous post, we are going to have a little chat about perfectionism.

just good enough

just good enough

Do you know of a perfectionist?

Are you too feeling the debilitating affects of trying to do everything perfectly? Are you one of those who gets down if things don’t go according to plan? Do you think your mistakes truly show how badly you are performing?

Well guess what; you are not alone. And you may not even realise that you are a teeny bit of a perfectionist.

This is not a slap on the wrist by the way, and appropriately enough, I am addressing perfectionism in this article, as I am just as guilty of this trait myself. Hence it took me weeks from creating this website to actually start posting articles on it. I didn’t feel I could do it until I’ve had all the answers and everything just the way I wanted it.

Of course, you may add, it is not a bad thing to want to excel, and give our best to all we do. So when does it become a problem? I think it lies in when we set ourselves unrealistic targets, which we cannot deliver. Then all we achieve is end up feeling bad about ourselves. In the worst cases this can lead to depression.

The irony is, however, that we believe unless we do something perfectly, it is not worth the effort! Which then can morph into procrastination, or inaction. For me, this can be as trivial an issue as leaving the kitchen untidy if I cannot clean it from top to bottom all at once, as it would take hours. Whereas, even if I just did the washing up, would make it look immediately better.

The world is colourful

Just imagine how many people perfectionism stopped becoming great?  I am a good case in point for sure. Of course, it’s not only perfectionism, my shyness played a part as well. But it certainly makes me wonder whether perfectionism had caused me to crawl into my skin so long ago. I felt it as a child; if I cannot be as popular and smart like the other kids, I have failed! Which led to a lot of moping about and beating myself up.

From that follows that perfectionists have the tendency to think in terms of ‘black and white’ and not much in between. Often concentrating on the outcome rather than the process itself. You know the sort; ‘I must lose a stone in the next 4 weeks so that I look fabulous in my bikini on my holidays. Otherwise I will not be able to show myself in public’. This can only lead to disappointment, as the focus is unrealistic right from the start.

That will do just fine

However, there is an alternative to perfectionism, and it is called ‘healthy striving’. Try putting a time limit on tasks. Realise it’s better to turn out a job slightly imperfect and on time, than sitting on it, going over the most trivial detail. When you feel like you are over doing something next time, ask yourself the question:  what is good enough and by whose account? Does this really have to be ‘perfect’, and what would happen if you let your standards go a little?

So the above statement could become: ‘I aim for 20 minutes exercise every other day and will build up my stamina gradually from there. If I can do more, great, but if not, I still enjoyed a good workout and feel better for it’. No anxiety, no fret, just do what you can now.

Task

After you’ve read this, take some time out to reflect if you are suffering from perfectionism. If you’re feeling brave, comment below and let us know how you realised this, and what are you going to do to change it?

See you next at uniqueness

Ash


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3 thoughts on “Is ‘Perfectionism’ stopping you from reaching your goals?

  • Ruth Martin

    My husband and I both suffer from perfectionism, (wow, that’s a word I don’t write often!) I tend to be okay with doing things for myself, but when it come to performing tasks for others, I am afraid they will not be satisfied with my work, or that they will think it isn’t good enough. Sometimes that makes me decide to NOT do something that I actually could be doing! My husband’s problem? He spends so much time analyzing something before he does it that he hardly gets started with actually doing it! We are both working on ourselves… 🙂

  • wanderlust

    Wow, I normally don’t post comments but I had to make an exception for this – what you’ve described is spot on for me! I recently came to the same realization (with the help of someone who knows me very, very well), that I set extremely high expectations for myself, which in turn causes me to give up / stop trying for fear of failing to meet those goals of perfection. I’m now constantly trying to remind myself not to beat myself up too much over achieving perfection, and to recognize that any progress made in relation to such tasks/goals, is still better than none at all. Thanks for the great article!

    • ash Post author

      Thank you for your comment.

      Indeed, it is one of those realisations in your life which will truly start freeing you up!

      We give up so many things along the way, because we think if we cannot do them ‘perfectly’ they are not worth doing. This is a common trait of those with low self esteem also – beleiving their mistakes will only show up their inadequacies (they think!).

      Perfectionism can lead to procrastination – putting something off until we have all the information we need to start a project. That point of course rarely comes…

      My advice is; jump into the task at hand and you’ll learn along the way. If you make mistakes – even better! That’s the secret of acquiring skills fast.