Are you a perfectionist?
If yes, I feel sorry for you. I don’t know if I am a perfectionist, but I do tend to try to make everything perfect and I know how hard this can be when it gets out of control. That’s why I decided to write today about how to deal with perfectionism.
I’m not in a perfect place yet, but I’ve found a few ways to go around it and I decided to share them with you. Let’s start!
Some truths you need to realise first
Everything is on your mind. So let’s start with changing your mindset a little bit. Easier said than done, but let’s make the beginning today, at least. Let’s plant these seeds and – hopefully – they’ll grow over time.
1. Perfectionism isn’t such a bad habit
It’s a good habit gone too far. Therefore, you don’t need to eliminate it; just to turn it down a little.
It’s good to want to be great. It’s bad to want to be perfect. So if we can just move the goal from perfect to great, that’s great! (It’s not perfect though! 😛 )
2. Done is better than perfect
Write this on a paper and stick it somewhere at your work area, so every time you raise your eyes, you can see it. Because if you can believe this, then everything will go better, trust me.
Perfectionism can kill your productivity really fast. Procrastination is usually side-by-side with perfectionism. You don’t feel like you can do a perfect job, so why even trying? Let’s leave it until the last moment…
No! This isn’t the way to go about it. Do it – even if you believe you’ll do it badly. After you finish it, you’ll probably have the time and a few ideas on how to make it better. If you leave it until the last moment, all you’ll have are regrets.
3. You’ll never do something perfectly
That’s a universal truth. There will always be room for improvement. It’s not possible to make something perfect. And even if others consider your project perfect, you’ll almost never see your project as perfect. You’re too close to it.
4. Failing is an opportunity for growth
When you aim for perfection, failure can be really devastating. But it’s not that bad. Failing can be really useful and you usually learn more from your failures than your successes.
Yeah, failing doesn’t feel good, but if you can deal with failure the right way, you can really make it work for you. Learn what you can do from failures and then move forward. That’s the way you go, right?
5. It’s not all or nothing
But you tend to treat everything like this. Like all the options you have is 0% and 100%.
The result? You go to 0% for most things. Because 100% is too high and you’re afraid that you won’t make it. (Not an irrational thought…)
But isn’t 99% better than 0%? For crying out loud, even 1% is better than 0%. Should you aim at 1%? NO. But you can’t win the race if you’re not in the race!
Don’t get me wrong. To be successful, you need to focus on a few things and say no to the rest. But if some of the things you don’t even start are among the ones you should focus on, then that’s a problem.
6. No one expects you to be perfect
That may come as a surprise to a perfectionist, but people don’t expect other people to be perfect. Well, at least they shouldn’t. Most people don’t even try to be good enough.
So relax and enjoy life without trying to be perfect. You’ll realise how many things you miss.
7. It’s ok to make mistakes
When you’re trying to be perfect all the time, even the smallest mistake seems huge to your eyes. Making mistakes not only will help you to learn how to deal with failing, but it’ll also teach you to be humble. Ego isn’t a good advisor. Don’t forget that.
Actions you can take
Let’s see now some actual steps you can take to get rid of your perfectionist tendencies:
1. Never go for the final version
There’s too much stress connected with this decision. Plus, the final version is never the final version. You’ll always go back to fix something. Instead, just start and do what you can.
But never, never say to yourself that this is the final version. Even if it is the final version… Or that’s what you believe.
2. Create Triggers
Find or create small routines that help you start and go on. Some examples:
- listening to a playlist only for working/studying
- go for a walk
- a cold shower
- going to a specific place to study/work (that’s especially helpful if you work from home)
It’s good if you have a routine when you stop working/studying for the day, too.
3. Don’t set ridiculously high expectations
If your expectations are high, first you’ll feel too intimidated to start and second, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. Because you probably won’t meet these expectations. And even if you do an awesome job, you may still not feel like this is a success, because you set the bar too high.
4. Plan B
And what if everything doesn’t go well?
Have a plan B ready. And maybe a plan C, too. Just because you shouldn’t try for perfection, this doesn’t mean you can’t prepare yourself for the case that things go wrong. Because sooner or later, they will.
This shouldn’t scare you, though. Up and downs make life more interesting. Success would mean nothing if there wasn’t for the fear of failing.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others
Compare yourself only to yourself. No one else. Even if you took the tiniest step towards improvement today, that’s great! If you can be a better version of yourself every day, that is the real success!
What can help you with this is keeping a journal. So get a journal and write every day your achievements of that day.
6. Enjoy the ride
Stop trying to be perfect and just enjoy the process, enjoy the work, enjoy the ride. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. Otherwise, no one should enjoy anything in their life until a moment before dying. Because that’s the final destination.
7. Set goals and realise when you achieve them
Something that a lot of perfectionists do is that they don’t celebrate the little goals. Every time they reach a goal, they believe that this goal wasn’t big enough. But yes, it was. Just because you achieved it, it doesn’t make the goal any less insignificant.
So celebrate the small wins on your way to the big ones!
8. Will it matter in 5 months?
Ask yourself this question.
“Will it matter in 5 months?”
If the answer is no, relax. Stop worrying and stop trying to perfect something that in 5 months won’t matter.
9. Stop trying to do everything
It’s difficult to do even one thing great, let alone 10 at the same time.
Therefore, you need to stop taking up so many projects at the same time. Yes, I’m talking to you! Stop saying yes to everything and start asking yourself how much you want to do this and if you should prioritise it over your existing workload.
10. How enough is good enough?
Define the main goals of your project to make it good enough. Then define the extras that will make it extraordinary.
Now, aim for the basics and if you have the time and the endurance to try the rest of them too, great. If not, move on. Good enough is good enough. You have other things to do!
And that’s it for today, my perfectionist friends. Follow this advice and tell me how they work for YOU.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write. And if you liked this, you may want to check out how to deal with stress, too.
See you next time!