Are you a perfectionist?
Do you know (or live / work with) a perfectionist?
How many of these sound familiar?
- do them perfectly
- I am not satisfied with things I do unless I
- I prefer to do things myself because other people can't do it properly
- I'd rather not start something than risk doing something I don't think I can do well
- I am much more likely to notice a failure than a success
- I hate the idea of someone else noticing I did something wrong
Ok so if we're honest we all do some of these some of the time, often it’s a form of self preservation, but if this is the only way we can do things, then maybe we need to be considering an alternative.
One of the really obvious ways where this can show up is in asking for help.
When I worked as a project manager, I would have conversations with colleagues who were feeling like they never had enough time in the day, they had so many things to do. But when we got to actually talking about what it was they were doing, there would invariably be things on the list which should be delegated, or handed over to someone else (or even not done 🤯)… but the objection was usually along the lines of "yes but if I do it myself I know that its done right/on time"
I was working with a client and they were feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things they needed to do, and wondering how they would ever get it all done. When we started looking at alternatives, one of the things that came up was whether they could ask for some help… then I heard the classic response "yes but if I did they wouldn't do it properly and I'd end up having to do it again, so what's the point"
You may have had the challenge of working for a micromanaging boss - one of mine wanted to check my work over and over again before I could let anyone else see it - because it needed to be perfect for them
All of these examples are based around someone's need for things to be "perfect" overruling everything else.
Time for a truth bomb: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT!!
If you are always seeking perfection, then you will always be dissatisfied and disappointed.
There can be lots of different reasons behind perfectionism, and I'm not going into those here, but have you ever considered the real costs of perfectionism?
One of the highest costs is time: you can spend so long trying to make something perfect, usually feeling highly stressed, that you run out of time to spend doing on fun things, or things that would be important in your life - if only you had enough time….
And then there's missed opportunities: if you cannot take the risk of doing something incase it doesn’t go perfectly, then you could be missing out on things that could have gone brilliantly!
As I said before, most of us do some of these some of the time, but when they are more common than not, that's when there could be a problem.
The great news is that you can overcome perfectionism. I'm not saying its easy, but it is doable, you just need to really understand what its costing you, and whether you're prepared to accept that any more or its time to change…
So what can you do about it?
Firstly, you need to accept that perfect is impossible, and that aiming for it takes a lot of effort and ultimately can result in a lot of disappointment.
Then you need to reset your expectations to "good enough" Maybe do 80% of what "perfect" would feel like, and see if anyone (apart from you!) notices the difference, or whether that last 20% made very little difference compared to the effort involved…
Another fundamental thing you need to accept: everyone makes mistakes
If you are not making mistakes you are not growing, and if you are not growing you are missing out on opportunities and experiences. Its all about taking risks - but the risk is probably a lot lower than you think! As my Grandma used to tell me "today's headlines are tomorrow's chip paper" (incase this doesn't translate: what seems important today will be forgotten by most of us by tomorrow)
Give yourself permission to not be perfect, and to make mistakes…
And then "feel the fear and do it anyway" (Susan Jeffers): start by allowing yourself to try things and noticing whether it went as badly as you thought, or whether you enjoyed it and learned something - or anywhere in between those 2 extremes.
Be open - don't just criticise, look for the good bits! I promise (and science proves) the more you do that the easier it gets!
Then try something else new… and see how the more you do it, the less uncomfortable it feels, and the further away from perfectionism you get to be
Imagine all that time you'll have now! And those exciting opportunities! And so much more
If this sounds like something you're ready to change, book a complimentary 30minute introduction call now!