You know, not all perfectionists manage their time effectively. Perfectionists are sometimes procrastinators too. Perfectionists may ultimately strive for perfection but you know, we’re not perfect.
And this is okay.
We as humans, are programmed to be perfectly imperfect, and that is perfectly beautiful. It’s hard sometimes though. No matter how much we convince others (and ourselves) that we do not fall prey to perfectionist tendencies, we all can get caught up in striving for perfection from time to time. Living in a society that values the idea of perfection doesn’t help very much either. We all try to succeed in the responsibilities and goals that we set for ourselves. However, success is often mistaken for the need to be perfect in each of those responsibilities.
So what is a perfectionist by definition? When it comes to perfectionism, people often take a more extreme approach to achieving excellence and completing their goals. Instead of trying to achieve their goals in a healthy way and accepting failure as part of the process, perfectionists will dissect the goal down to the most minute detail, to the point where accomplishing anything less than their perception of perfect is unacceptable.
There is a fear of failure, disapproval, of making mistakes and a constant comparison of oneself to others that goes along with this extreme method of completing tasks.
I think the general belief about perfectionists is that they always complete their goals. They’re driven, they get things done on time, they’re highly motivated, and they’re all around fearless in a sense. Yes, some of these are definitely true, but we’re forgetting something very important: Perfectionists can also suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression, just like any other person. Perfectionists aren’t superheroes, despite the way some may think they are, or the way in which perfectionists may view themselves.
There’s no true research showing that perfectionists are better or more successful than non-perfectionists. Yes, perfectionists may get more things done or be highly motivated in completing tasks, but perfectionists can also be procrastinators. Perfectionists often have an “all-or-nothing” mentality, where they believe that everything can be separated between only ‘good’ or ‘bad’, with nothing in between. Therefore, if something they are completing can’t be perfect, they have the sense that it’s not worth trying at all. Yes, some perfectionists can be fearless in the sense that they believe they can do it all, however, perfectionists can’t overcome every obstacle like Superman or whoever your favorite superhero is. This superhuman mentality is the perfectionist’s kryptonite and ultimately may lead to greater stress, and even more serious mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
This is some serious stuff. So with all of this, let’s talk about a better way of completing goals and accomplishing tasks:
Enter healthy striving. There’s a huge difference between perfectionism and healthy striving. Healthy strivers will take the extremity out of working toward their goals and enjoy the actual process rather than only the end result. They can set high standards, but within reason and in reach.
They are not afraid of failure or disappointment. They also see mistakes as opportunities to learn and can take criticism constructively. It seems as though healthy strivers may be considered to be the fearless ones after all. In the face of conflict, a healthy striver looks at the risks of a situation and goes for it, because they’re strong enough to know that disappointment awaits, but so does success.
It can be a slow process to let go of perfectionist tendencies. The thing is that we all have them. This is so true. But there are a few things you can do to transition from perfectionist to healthy striver. Don’t worry! We need to start by accepting the fact that we are humans, not robots. We are all prone to making mistakes and this is just part of life.
- Start by making realistic goals
• Learn your limits and don’t take on more than you can handle. Start out by setting short-term goals initially so it’s less daunting. You can always work up to long-term goals so that you’re dreams look more achievable. Because they are!
- Learn to deal with criticism
• I’ll be honest, I hate criticism. But sometimes we really need it. How would we get better or to the place we are now without it? Start by changing the word “criticism” to “advice” or “suggestions”. Look at criticism as a way of expanding your abilities and an opportunity to grow.
- Make a list of disadvantages and advantages to being perfect
• You may find the list of disadvantages is a little longer than the advantages in every situation. There’s a lot more room to take risks, get creative, and be yourself if you choose the less perfect path.
- Focus on the process of doing an activity rather than the end result
• You know that one thing you’re passionate about? Maybe it’s drawing, writing, painting, playing an instrument, or playing Pokemon Go (lol). Do that! Do that first before you dive into your adult responsibilities. Because when you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’re not focused on the end result, rather you’re present and you’re just enjoying the moment. Maybe that passion will carry over to your priorities.
- Set time limits for all your projects
• Because perfectionists struggle with time management, it can be extremely helpful to set time limits for projects. Say you have a paper to write, readings to do, projects to complete, pizza to eat…Decide to work on each for about an hour and then move on to the next tasks as soon as that hour is over. You may find you really do get more work done as a result. Also remember to make time for eating that pizza, taking stretch breaks, or talking to friends.
- Try to handle situations with grace
• Grace is defined as a simple elegance or refinement of movement. This is so beautiful to me because it goes hand in hand with healthy striving. Sometimes we need to take a step back or step outside ourselves to see how a difficult situation can be completed. Sometimes we have to do that in order to see the best plan of action. I often have 100 worries at once but 99 of those are just made up ones in my head that I if I really examine, I can let go. So just take a step back, take a deep breath, and know that even if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Believe in the truth of that. Or maybe just pretend you’re Audrey Hepburn or Beyoncé and ask yourself, “how would they handle this?”
Just remember, you really don’t have to do it all and make it perfect all the time. Taking a step back does not mean you will fail, only that you’re giving yourself a little more room to take risks and to truly live.
So I urge you, be a little more accepting of yourself and perhaps this world may be a better place little by little. A better place for you.