As a high achiever myself, I understand you. If you’re reading this, we may be cut from the same cloth where every thread needs to be “perfect” and perfectionism is part of our identity.
I wore what I felt was a badge of honor: “Perfectionist.” I’d have worn a t-shirt with “Perfectionist” on it to announce that I have high standards and that you can count on me. I thought others would think highly of me because I’m so good at what I do.
That was the lie I told myself. When I learned it was a lie, I went into shock – it made me question everything I had ever done in the name of perfectionism in a whole new light.
Learning About the Illusion of Being Perfect
Fortunately, I was early in my career when I learned about the lie. Being shocked is what made me change immediately.
I was watching Oprah one day. Her guest was a “recovering perfectionist.” Oprah might have well slapped me in the face that day.
- Perfectionism causes pain
- There’s no such thing as being perfect (it’s a myth people say, but don’t believe)
I still refer to myself as a “recovering perfectionist.” While I have come a long way, there are times when my brain wants to slip back into perfectionism – and I need to make a conscious choice to pull it back to reality.
Perfectionism: The Opposite of What You Think
How does perfectionism cause pain?
It’s actually the opposite of what you think to be true.
Powerful and very in-control, but it is OVER you, not FROM you.
Anything that has power OVER you doesn’t serve your best interests.
Perfectionistic qualities work against you:
- It takes the fun out of what you’re doing, so you lose the joy of creating & doing.
- It feels stressful and unenjoyable.
When you are so in control, your emotions generate enormous work, pressure, and stress, along with frustration, impatience, and intolerance…among other negative qualities.
How can doing a task feel great while you are filled with pressure, anxiety, stress, and the controlling effort that it takes to maneuver through the uncontrollable people and circumstances that are involved in the scenario?
The High Costs of Being in Control All the Time
What are the costs of our controlling, impatient, frustrated, and stressed behaviors?
- When we are hard on ourselves, we’re hard on others. We create distance and friction in our relationships.
- We do it all in the name of the perfect project, but is it worth the cost? People don’t like being controlled, criticized or told how imperfect they are by another imperfect being. I realized my high standards of perfection was hurting others, not helping them.
While we are being a perfectionist in our minds, we have difficulty enjoying staying present – making us less able to enjoy the other experiences and people in our lives.
- Our time is spent being so focused, hard on ourselves and hard on others in a project. And when we’re away from the office, it’s hard for us to enjoy ourselves. We are thinking about how to perfect things. We are frustrated and beat ourselves up because it isn’t perfect enough.
- We don’t enjoy our life experiences and the people we love fully when our minds are in such a place. They distract us from the rest of our lives. When it becomes your habit and way of life, you spend all your time and miss out on simply enjoying life.
Striving for the unrealistic goal of perfection prevents us from getting ourselves and our accomplishments out into the world. Our productivity is a small fraction of what is possible.
- Waiting for anything to be perfect is unnecessary. If you wait for it to be perfect, it will never be done. Plus, you will never get any of the other things done on your list.
- We perceive things in different ways. What I believe to be perfect, another may view as average.
- Live up to your potential with all that you give. Get the job done so you can accomplish more! If I had not changed my ways, I would not have created the successful businesses that I did.
Reality Check: There’s No Such Thing as Perfect
Perfect doesn’t exist.
What exactly is the definition of perfect?
We each have a different idea of what it means. Who determines when something is perfect or what qualifies as perfect? Who are we trying to please with perfection? Stress starts when someone doesn’t define perfect the same way as you do.
We painfully twist ourselves into a pretzel by creating things that are perfect by everyone else’s definition – but we really don’t know what that is, so we guess. But when that doesn’t meet their definition, then that must mean that we really don’t know what perfect is – so we are just not perfect enough – yet.
Then we try harder to become more perfect. Why? Because we decided that what others think and value and define as perfect determines how perfect/imperfect we really are.
Your value is not determined by others at all. Ever.
Your value is determined by YOU.
When you work hard to try to hit other peoples’ targets, you never get to hit your own – and you feel bad while you’re doing it.
So, stop the madness. Stop the insanity.
Get Real with Yourself About Being Perfect
Acknowledge that there is no such thing as perfect. We are all always in practice.
I’ve heard this line before (I used to say it too):
“My perfectionistic high standards got me where I am. I should keep doing what is working.”
Is it really working?
Consider this: Each of us has been given unique gifts and talents. We would be selling ourselves short to not use them. It is a gift we give ourselves when we do.
We can apply our wonderful gift of having high standards when necessary or not- and we can also do it while enjoying it, having fun, and building stronger relationships with those around us rather than pushing them away. We accomplish more as a result.
That’s My Idea of Perfect, That’s Success.
I invite you to consider:
- Your definition of perfect
- What your definition of success can be now- what do you want?
Once you answer those questions, tell me how you want to create more success in your life, living more to your true potential than you ever have before.
Then we can get some NEW t-shirts made with a more inspiring message:
“Recovering perfectionist who has found Success in Imperfection”.
If you can relate to this, know that I can help you transform your perfectionism to work for you – not against you! Get started right here.