Perfectionism can help push us past our comfort zone and reach for seemingly impossible goals. But it can also cause a lot of stress and paralyze us. We can waste so much time agonizing over details or analyzing a situation that we never actually do anything—and that’s what counts. How can we deal with perfectionism?
Signs you’re a perfectionist
Perfectionists have a tendency to think in terms of ‘all or nothing.’ Even a small mistake can be seen a a failure. They are very critical of themselves and others. And they are usually driven by a fear of failure, which can overshadow the joy of doing something they love or the appreciation of the process. Ironically they also tend to set unrealistic standards and goals, so failure is almost inevitable.
Perfectionists are often sensitive and tend to wallow in negative feelings. They may also procrastinate, since they worry so much about doing something imperfectly that they become paralyzed and fail to do anything at all! This leads to more feelings of failure, and a vicious cycle that goes round and round. They may also battle with low self esteem.
Confront your perfectionism
Exactly what does perfectionism mean? What beliefs do you have about perfectionism and how do these beliefs impact your life? What are rational alternatives or new beliefs you can adopt to reduce the negative impact of perfectionism?
Change your view of mistakes
Look at the word: mis-TAKE. So Take one, Take two or Take three to get it right! Remember that Thomas Edison took 1000 ‘takes’ to invent the lightbulb. Imagine if he gave up, we would all be in the dark! Forgive yourself, pick yourself up and start all over again. Learn to accept yourself the way you are rather than your idea of how you should be. Read more about the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving.)
Find something that’s bigger than your fear
Remember that anything worth doing, is worth doing badly. If you’re doing great work – you know, the type of work that has meaning and will make an impact, then chances are it’s work that’s new and at the edge of your competence. It’s work that is different and you haven’t done it a thousand times before. You’re not likely to do it perfectly.
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