What’s so wrong with being a perfectionist? Sounds like a pretty good problem to have, no? Well one problem is that perfectionists are rarely satisfied with merely a job well done. Second, they are often driven by a false belief that being perfect is a way (perhaps the only way) to achieve acceptance from others.
So overall, perfectionism is bad for your mental health. More importantly it is preventing you from enjoying your life. Here are a few ways on which you can overcome perfectionism :
- Use physical activity for relaxation rather than competition. Are you always looking over your shoulder while exercising? There’s a reason why gym’s have mirrors and its not about getting a better workout. If you find yourself comparing your downward dog to that girl with the pale pink yoga mat, then stop. You’re here to relax and enjoy yourself remember.
- Have a bad hair day. Yes, there is life without a hairdresser. If you spend 2 hours everyday getting ready and trying to appear perfect in the eyes of the outside world, you need to start focusing on other things! If someone has a problem with how you look, that is their issue.
- Finish a task and leave it. Don’t fuss or edit or take it through iterations. Trust your own judgement and leave it. Contemporary workplaces might encourage overwork and perfectionism, but the reality is that stressed workers are less productive and that sometimes near enough is good enough.
- Stop Procrastinating. Procrastination is part of being a perfectionist. Tell yourself that it is okay to take a few shortcuts to get something done and that it is better to get something started than leaving a blank page for days when you have a deadline.
- Take Time Out. Do something that has nothing to do with being productive. Watch a stupid, funny, unedifying movie, that won’t challenge you. No, you don’t have to sequester your relaxation time into self education experiences. Yes, that’s right. Take a day off and do absolutely nothing that could be defined as productive.
- Have compassion. Give more compliments. If you start finding things to like about other people, you may also start finding things to like about yourself. Embrace the grey area that is humanity. When someone makes a mistake, be more tolerant. Understanding and being more accepting towards others can help you take those first faltering steps towards forgiving and accepting yourself.
Seeking perfection is impossible, unsatisfying, and frustrating. On the other hand, achieving any level of progress is very doable, satisfying, and rewarding. Seeking progress instead of perfection will require setting smaller goals. Set an embarrassingly low goal, achieve it, and move on from there.