There’s no such thing as perfection… You must have heard this loads of times; only that we all react differently to it. For a perfectionist, this couldn’t be further from the truth because he is 100% sure perfection does exist and can be attained. The task for him becomes: how does he get there?
I’m a perfectionist. And, with time, I’ve come to realize that it’s not just a positive aspect of someone’s personality, but it can be a less positive one too. While perfectionism pushes you to exceed your own boundaries and become better at something to match an idealized goal you have in your head (which can be extremely demanding – believe me, I know :), it can be a tricky personality trait too. I’ve recently found myself thinking: what’s the reason for getting so obsessed over this idea of perfection? I want my body, my breakfast, my holiday, my house, my work, etc. to be flawless. Let’s say I have to do a presentation for work – I wouldn’t make it without being 100% sure it will turn out amazing – I will repeat those slides 50 times if necessary and get anxious about them every time ;) Is this really worth it?
Why do perfectionists worry so much about doing everything ‘perfect’? What can be done to ease the pressure load off our shoulders with these unreasonable standards? Before we get confused with all the questions, let’s divide this into 2 main chunks:
- Are you a perfectionist? If Yes, then…
- What can you do to make things easy on yourself?
For the first part, I will let you discover if you fit into the perfectionist category by doing one of the online tests here developed by psychologists:
If the results point out to your being a perfectionist, then we have some work to do ;) From everything I’ve read so far, I put together 4 points that I consider elementary in order to ‘fight’ average to extreme perfectionism.
Setting realistic expectations
When one strives for perfection, realistic expectations may not fit in your vocabulary. But we have to integrate them and realize that nobody’s perfect. The most important is that you avoid setting the bar too high and realize that trying your best is more than enough.
Wisely pick your battles
If possible, let’s try and diminish the aspects of our lives where we strive for perfection. Not everything has to live to some unrealistic standards of perfection. You can try your best in some areas, but try your average in areas that are not as important. Let’s say you’re about to write a regular email to your accountant. There’s no reason to go over all the details 10 times. In the end, you have established a relationship with that person already and a regular, quarterly email about your taxes doesn’t have to be flawless, 100% mistake free and 100% coherent – especially since I am sure that email is not the most important task of the day on your list anyways.
Don’t judge yourself
If you’ve managed picking up your battles right, then, the most important thing would be for you not to judge yourself in case the ‘average’ battle was set average and performed so. In the end, you made an agreement with yourself about performing that task in that particular way and there’s no point in going over it again.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Let’s say you’re stressed over performing some project that you, yet again, want to be perfect. Think about it: in case it doesn’t live up to your expectations, what’s the worst that can happen and is it worth going crazy over it? If the worst-case scenario does not make you feel uncomfortable, then maybe you should lower those expectations a bit.
I am sure it all sounds easier said than done ;) This goes with pretty much everything. However, with practive it will all come together. So, if we learn to be more flexible about the ‘perfection’ we target, by practicing some of the points above, our lives will be greatly freed and we shall feel more relaxed.
Enjoy your days as imperfect as they may be,