'Perfect’ always sounds like a good thing, and being a ‘perfectionist’ might be a medal of honor or a point of pride for many, but in fact, ‘perfect’ is not really perfect all the time. Constantly seeking perfection can be one of the worst things to live with. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on wanting to give your best shot in everything you do; it is more about making peace with the fact that ‘imperfect’ is the starting point of many great things.
What is really the deal with being a perfectionist?
Perfectionism is constantly striving for flawlessness which when not attained or achieved is followed by harsh self-evaluation. On the other hand, trying your best leaves room for understanding that failure is possible and normal even at times when you’ve tried so hard. To simplify it, perfectionism and fear are the flip sides of the same coin.
How does perfectionism hold you back?
• It always makes you feel you are not good enough. As a perfectionist, you set very high standards for yourself that no matter how far you’ve come, it never looks like an accomplishment, you never feel good enough.
• It holds you back from taking risks. Perfectionists never forgives failures and setbacks. This is why taking risk feels like a nightmare for perfectionists since they can’t bear it and don’t know how to deal with unexpected outcomes. Perfectionists always prefer going by the book, tried and tested methods is their safe option that saves them from feelings like inadequacy or failure.
• Unexpected change of plans or requests put you under stress. For a perfectionist going by the book, unexpected scenarios can sound like a catastrophe. Having to go out of their course of action to adapt to new changes makes them feel the ground under their feet is shaky.
• The all-or-nothing mindset of a perfectionist hinders their process. Perfectionists want it all the way they have imagined it, so if something doesn’t up exactly as planned, they take longer to perfect every step. This paralyzes the whole process making it harder to complete the task.
• Perfectionism makes you live in constant stress and worry. Perfectionists feel anxious most of the time worrying about every tiny detail and stressing over future mistakes which accordingly affects their overall wellbeing.
How to break free from perfectionism?
1. Prepare yourself to face all consequences with no harsh self-criticism or judgment.
2. Redefine your success metrics and don’t raise the standards too high for yourself.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others or their stories. Only compare between where you are now and where you were before.
4. Be open to change and new ideas. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track. Calculated risk can help.
5. Be self-compassionate and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as expected.