Perfect only counts in the Olympics
Perfectionism is ok if you’re an Olympian who’s been training a lifetime for a single flawless performance, but it can be destructive in daily life. So unless you’re training for the Gold, remember that “perfect” is just a goal to work toward, and not a lifestyle choice.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t work hard or aim high, but when taken to extremes, perfectionism contributes to an overall feeling of never having enough, and of never being satisfied with what you do have. It breeds disappointment for you, and resentment towards you from others when they can’t live up to impossible standards.
I hear many clients express extreme and constant disappointment in many areas in their lives, and find that they regularly employ “all or nothing” thinking like, “If I can’t do it 110% then I won’t do it at all” or, “I feel paralyzed by this stuff and don’t know where to start,” or “I could work for hours but it still wouldn’t make a dent.”
This only creates unhealthy feelings of guilt, depression, and low self-esteem. Often perfectionists fear rejection from others if everything they do doesn’t qualify as sheer genius, and constantly striving for perfection can breed a fear of failure, anxiety, and even contribute to procrastination. All of which can ultimately lead to depression and total immobilization.
So how to overcome perfectionism? Start by vowing to do your “best” (not to be “perfect”) and allow yourself the flexibility for “good enough.” Realize that we’re all in the same boat since no one is perfect. Forgive yourself and others for not being perfect. Recognize that character isn’t developed at the finish line but in your efforts to get there. Reward yourself when you’ve done a good job. Be aware of “grass is greener” thoughts and stop comparing; instead focus on the postive in yourself and others and work towards acceptance.
Want some specific tools to overcome perfectionism? I love this article on LiveStrong.com.