Perfectionism at a deeper level is really fear of failure. You can say you do not want to put things out there because you are a perfectionist because things need to be exactly right. You might push back a step forward you want to make because you are waiting for the situation to be perfect. You are waiting for life to be perfect before you can make any real changes. When you are always holding yourself back and using the reason that you are a perfectionist. I would like you to explore the idea that deep down, labeling yourself as a perfectionist, is code for saying you are too scared to fail so you do not want to take action. Is this a flaw you should be ashamed of? Absolutely not, but if it is interfering with you living your life to your fullest, perhaps it needs to be addressed.
If you break it down, wanting things to be perfect is wanting nothing to go wrong because if something goes wrong it means you didn’t do it right and when you haven’t done it right that means that you weren’t good enough and if you are not good enough then you are exposed as someone that doesn’t have it all together. Or, something along those lines, right? What is at the bottom of all of that? You are scared to be seen “failing”. You see any mistake as an act of huge failure. You are drowning under the pressure you put yourself under to always get things exactly right. And, most likely, you are never quite satisfied with how your life is because it will never reach your expectations of how things “should be”.
It is easy to think of your perfectionism as a positive attribute, something you can be proud of as someone who just likes things to be right. But how much is it serving you? Perfectionism can lead to stress, unhappiness, low self-esteem and decreased performance. It is the battle of never feeling quite good enough. Perfectionists are often incredibly harsh on themselves for not reaching impossible expectations.
If you are recognising yourself in these words, I have a strategy for you to be able to let go of perfectionism a little bit. I am not asking you to be ridiculously laid back and stop caring, I doubt that will be your jam and I can also bet that without your desire to be a high achiever, you wouldn’t be where you are today.
Step 1) Make yourself a list of everything you feel must be perfect. In all the areas of your life, career, relationship, health, finances, personality. Where are you telling yourself, you cannot fail without it being a disaster and awful for your character.
Step 2) Ask yourself why do you believe you have to be perfect? What is the dominant belief behind it? The stories that circle around and around in your brain.
Step 3) Ask yourself, can you know that belief to be 100% true, at all times, in all circumstances? I am pretty confident your answer will be no, so, why does that belief need to be true in the situation you are applying it to?
Step 4) What is one specific way you can challenge that behaviour? How can you start to reduce your perfectionism behaviour? Perhaps you are always dissatisfied with where you are in life because you have a next goal that you need to achieve before you can finally “be happy” or “relax”. How can you take out 10 minutes a day to just celebrate where you are right now and how far you have come?
Being a perfectionist gets in the way of you moving towards your goals because it can put you in overwhelm and procrastination from taking action. It can also cause you exhaustion because you won’t stop to celebrate your wins. Things will never feel good enough for you so you will always be striving for the next level without stopping to just allow yourself to be.
If you notice that you have a tendency to have the thinking patterns of a perfectionist, how can you start to make changes on that this week?. Now, as perfectionists, you are going to want to get the change exactly right and if you cannot you are going to tell yourself you have failed. I want you to challenge yourself for one week, where the bare minimum accomplishment is good enough. Your attempts do not have to be perfect and you do not have to do it all. Try that without losing your mind.