Some people think perfectionism is a positive trait, but it’s much darker than you might think. When you refuse to accept that you make mistakes, it can wreak chaos on your mental health. Not to mention, it destroys your productivity!
Above all, having impossible to reach standards is a form of self-sabotage.
“Perfectionism is not a way to avoid shame. Perfectionism is a form of shame.”
For a perfectionist, if their creations aren’t ideal, they’ll feel deeply unworthy and even shameful. Furthermore, it can spiral into depression, anger problems, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
You don’t have to struggle for hours with every task because you can change how you do things. You can become more confident and satisfied with your work, including the flaws!
Do you have perfectionism?
Perfectionism will not protect you from mistakes; instead, it’ll cause you to hate yourself for making them. Even though messing up is completely normal. As a result, you paralyze your progress.
Ask yourself these questions about perfectionism:
- Do you fear failure?
- Have you procrastinated on starting ambitious projects?
- Are you always disappointed with your results?
- Do you feel like you must earn affection or approval?
- Have you missed deadlines because you’ve been obsessing over your work?
- Does it take you forever to complete simple tasks?
- Do you push your perfectionism onto others?
- Are you constantly stressed out and anxious?
- Is this project as critical as you’re making it out to be?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you need to read these tips to overcome perfectionism.
Practice the following tips to defeat perfectionism.
1. First, realize what matters
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
Perfectionists tend to worry about details that don’t really matter. Instead, focus on what you need to do to get to your goal and ignore the rest.
But what things should you not worry about anymore?
First, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, where you live, or if you grew up rich or poor. Your sexuality or race doesn’t matter either.
You don’t need a degree (unless you want to be a doctor) because you don’t need college to learn what you need to know. You have the internet.
Even if you have mental disorders or have been through trauma, you can’t let that hold you back. Besides, everyone has psychological issues sometimes. No one has a perfect mind. We all get depressed, anxious, or have insomnia from time to time. That comes with being the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Don’t be ashamed of that!
Anyway, now that you know what doesn’t matter, stop worrying about all that. I’m sure you can think of someone who had worse circumstances than you and still made it.
All that matters is that you provide value to others. That’s it.
2. Use deadlines to squash perfectionism
“Striving for excellence motivates you; Striving for perfection is demoralizing.”
― Harriet Braiker
Perfectionism can intensify your fear of finishing. Because then you need to turn it in or publish it to the world. Although that can be intimidating, don’t let it stop you from going for it.
Fear can cause you to waste a ton of time on simple tasks. Of course, taking forever to do anything doesn’t make you look perfect at all and can even cause you to lose your job. So, it helps to enforce stricter deadlines. Deadlines make you focus on the essential details that lead to you completing the project. Furthermore, a sense of urgency can trigger the flow state, also known as getting in the zone.
Write out what you need to do, along with firm deadlines. Evoke urgency by imagining something horrible will happen if you don’t complete it by that time.
3. Perfectionism and self-doubt
“Let go of who you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.”
― Brené Brown
Hidden in the shadows of perfectionism is self-doubt. Even though the worst thing you can do is doubt yourself when you’re trying to succeed.
For this reason, you must believe that you can do this! I promise you’re more capable than you think and even if you make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. Try doing something imperfectly and see what happens. Prove to yourself that your biggest fears didn’t come true.
4. Reevaluate your standards
“Perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis.”
― Brené Brown
What are you striving for every day? Is that realistic? Does it take you forever to start or finish tasks? Pushing yourself too hard can shut down your brain because creativity refuses to flow when there’s too much pressure.
Not to mention, holding yourself to impossible standards is setting yourself up to fail. Instead, lighten up and give yourself a break. At least you’re doing something.
So, examine your goals and see if you can simplify them till they’re realistic enough to achieve.
5. Have self-compassion
“There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.”
— Shannon L. Alder
Perfectionists are notorious for being hard on themselves. But, you need self-compassion when you’re trying to move up in the world because it’s not an easy trip! So, encourage yourself, set realistic goals, and celebrate your accomplishments.
Moreover, don’t get angry when you make mistakes; learn to accept them as proof that you’re human and that you’re making progress.
Remember, you are good enough, even with your flaws.
6. Learn to let go
“Everything you do might look amazing in someone else eyes, but in your heart never truly satisfied.”
―Emmie Lee Dean
Another issue with perfectionism is letting go of the project. Perfectionists know that after they finish the task, they will be judged by others. Judgment is their ultimate fear and the reason they procrastinate on insignificant details.
So, you must learn to let go of your work. Detach from the outcome and focus on the process. Above all, finishing is more important than perfection. Besides, nothing will ever be perfect, so complete it, and you won’t fall behind or make yourself crazy.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
“Embrace being perfectly imperfect. Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself, you’ll be happier.”
— Roy Bennett
Many times, perfectionism emerges when you compare your results to the experts. But those people didn’t get to the top overnight, so don’t expect that from yourself. The thing is you never saw them fine-tuning their craft for many hours alone every day.
If you just started building this skill, it’s not fair to you to compare yourself to the masters.
In reality, you’ll have to pay your dues just like the pros did, by making countless mistakes. Not with instant perfection.
So, detach from what other people are doing and compare only to your past self. Focus only on becoming a little bit better each time.
8. Realize that failure is nothing to fear
“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”
—Thomas Watson Jr
Contrary to what we learned in school, failing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The simple fact is, you need to make more mistakes to improve. It’s an efficient way to learn what you need to do to succeed. Einstein, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all failed at certain times in their lives. Do you think you’re better than them?
So, failing doesn’t mean you’re a loser; it means you’re growing into someone better. Everyone fails from time to time. It’s critical that you learn from it so you can use it as a stepping stone to push ahead.
Moreover, don’t worry about what other people think of your mistakes. They won’t hate you for it; in fact, your flaws make them like you more! So, accept who you are and the fact that you’re improving every day.
Ultimately, you are worthy (flaws and all) to achieve your dream life. You just need to stop blocking yourself from it. Always remember that it’s normal to be imperfect.
For instance, look at nature; it’s beautiful. Even though if you look closely, there are broken branches, bugs, and dead plants. But, these “flaws” don’t ruin the landscape. Nature is still incredible, despite its imperfections, just like you.
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Also, let me know in the comments what you think about perfectionism!