Being a perfectionist is not all bad. It provides the motivation to do great work, provide excellent results, and invokes a dedication and perseverance that others admire.
But it can come at a cost – to your results and to your quality of life.
Perfectionism can easily result in paralysis, inflexibility, and the inability to adapt to change. As a perfectionist, you might get attached to a way of doing things that you have mastered over several years, but is out of touch with new needs, constraints and goals. Can you imagine mastering the use of the fax machine?
And, when it’s time to create a new approach, process or method, you can easily want to get it perfected out of the gate, when you must go through a period of trial and error to perfect. While this can be very frustrating, it’s not the biggest cost to our personal well-being.
In the pursuit of perfectionistic results, it’s common to also experience the highest levels of self-criticism for falling short. The blame we turn on ourselves or others involved with us, can be brutal to our self-confidence, sense of worth, and our sense of discouragement or hopelessness.
There are two strategies that have assisted me with my perfectionistic tendencies:
1 – Changing My Approach
My best decisions are often made after my “initial” decision. Once I begin to move on my decision I experience flow or resistance, which informs my “actual” decision. Why the discrepancy?
Because we can’t know in our “heads” what the experience will teach us.
Knowing this gives me permission for four phases –
- Get the ideas out
- Organize my ideas
- Articulate them to make sense
- Perfect them the best I know how.
This provides time and space for fine-tuning, adjusting, getting input from others and getting inspirational messages from my attunement. No pressure, just fun in the creation!
2 – Kindness and Forgiveness
There is no greater responsibility that I will have in my lifetime than being a loving “parent” to myself. Providing kind and caring course correction instead of abusing myself with self-criticism, berating my imperfections or punishing myself for my human error, which is natural.
Making a vow of acting kindly towards me, even when I fall short of my goals, has been critical for my well-being and my sense of self-worth. And, when I forget, which is also natural, I quickly move into Self-forgiveness for the judgments I placed against myself.
As quickly as possible, I remember that I am doing the best I can, forgive myself for my self-criticism, and kindly encourage and inspire myself to do better as I remind myself that learning is the goal – doing better the next time – and enjoying the process along the way.