Being Perfectly Imperfect
I admit it – I am a recovering perfectionist! As a child, I can remember re-writing homework because I had crossed something out. Seriously!!!
There have been times when I have caught myself procrastinating around projects, going around in circles and getting stuck. Luckily enough, I’ve got to know it is just my ‘inner perfectionist’ running riot, and I can easily put her back in her box.
Get comfortable with being perfectly imperfect. It will help you to fight the inner perfectionist that is holding you back, and open you up to new opportunities both personally and professionally.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is created by self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, aimed at reaching unrealistic goals. It is often worn as a badge of honour, and seen as a desirable quality, or one necessary for success. I would argue that it sabotages happiness and success.
“Perfectionism is the twenty-two ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” Brené Brown
Signs of a perfectionist at work
Fear of failure. Making a mistake can haunt a perfectionist, not achieving is directly linked with their self-worth. Perfectionists will do everything possible to avoid making a mistake, which can lead to missed opportunities and procrastination. They can also be less accepting of mistakes others make and overly critical.
Fear of disapproval. Perfectionists are scared that if anyone discovers their flaws, that they will be rejected. They desperately try to protect themselves from criticism and disapproval. Their biggest nightmare is showing any vulnerability, but ultimately, this can affect their ability to develop healthy, close relationships.
Black and white thinking. Perfectionists have difficulty seeing situations in perspective. Much of their thinking is all or nothing, they just see black or white when there is a whole rainbow of colours in between. I can remember a school report where all marks were an A except for one B – I thought I had failed, whereas in reality, it was a glowing report.
Shoulds! A perfectionist’s life is dominated by an endless list of ‘shoulds’. These work as a set of rigid rules for how their lives must be led, rather than following their own wants and desires.
Comparison trap. Perfectionists constantly compare themselves to others. Unfairly! They believe others are better, more successful, confident, etc. In reality, they are often comparing themselves to someone who is at the top of their game and not starting out like them. Comparing yourself to others is the perfect way to feel inadequate.
To-do list from hell. Many perfectionists have the longest to-do lists. They comprise of all the things they want to achieve (which are usually completely unreasonable). They then spend their time focusing on all the things they haven’t done, and use this as another reason to put themselves down.
Stopping perfection in its tracks
It doesn’t matter when you started your journey as a perfectionist, or what areas of your life it affects, you can do something about it.
Spot when you are being a perfectionist. Are there certain things that you want perfect? Do you find yourself procrastinating around, or avoiding certain jobs? These are tell-tale signs that your inner perfectionist is at work.
Get comfortable with your quirks. Humans respond and build relationships with other humans not ‘perfect’ robots. It’s okay to show weakness or vulnerability at times.
I was known for my ability to get my words muddled when recording podcasts. Because of this, it made them more fun, and the feedback was positive because I was being real. I soon accepted this as a quirk, rather than something to be upset about.
Take a new perspective. Not everything has to be in black in white. Add some colour. So instead of concluding: “that doesn’t work”, try “that didn’t work this time, what’s my next step?”.
Good enough! This is a great phrase – when you find yourself being a perfectionist, stop and check “is this good enough?” If it is, let it go and move onto the next thing.
Recognise your achievements. End your day by recognising what you have achieved. Give yourself the recognition you deserve, you will be surprised how much you have done.
Be yourself. Ask yourself what you really want, or need. What would nurture your soul?
Being an imperfect human is an amazing gift. Live and work in a way that is authentic to you, and experience the joy and appreciation that results.
If you struggle with being a perfectionist, contact me to see how I can help you.