“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it” ~Edith Schaeffer
Do you have a hard time completing tasks because you want to be perfect? Perfectionism can be a real curse. It can stop us cold, prevent us trying new things and convince us that what we do is never good enough.
Pride in a job well done is great but when you tip the balance over to being a perfectionist, it can be disabling and counter-productive. As a recovering perfectionist, I would like to share some of the things that I do to nip this stress-inducing affliction in the bud.
Just being aware that you are a perfectionist is a great start to overcoming it. If you know that you have perfectionist tendencies, you can take steps to change your behavior before creating a lot of unnecessary stress. Let your friends or family members know that you are working on ridding yourself of being perfect; that way they can remind you of your quest in those times where you are tired, unmotivated or not as aware.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Be Open to Feedback
Feedback is essential for growth and development. Avoid allowing feedback from others and from yourself to keep you from moving towards your goal. Feedback doesn’t mean that YOU are not a good enough person; it just lets you know where you are in respect to achieving a particular goal. Feedback let’s you know that you are not perfect—there is always room for improvement.
“Done is better than perfect.” ~ Scott Allen
Create and Stick To Deadlines
There is always more to do. You can never accomplish it “all”. And when you are in perfectionist mode, it can seem that what you are doing is never going to be good enough—and it isn’t because there is no such thing as perfect. To prevent perfectionism from creating unending projects or projects that take longer than they need to, create deadlines. Begin your project early enough to give yourself ‘tweaking’ time at the end, but be strict with yourself and don’t allow yourself to continue making changes past the deadline.
“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.” ~ Eugene Delacroix
Give Yourself a Break
Perfectionists are often as hard on themselves as they are on what they do. Give yourself a break and appreciate that you are human. If you make a mistake, clean it up and move on. We are not designed to be perfect.
It is amazing how big the gap can be between what people achieve and what they think they have achieved. Striving for perfection distorts how we see our accomplishments. Often we don’t think that what we have done is as good as it really is. Avoid minimizing your accomplishments because they aren’t “perfect”. Embrace the imperfections in yourself and others, and relax, breathe, smile and see the beauty in the mess.
Photo credit: Francis Bourgouin
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