When I was younger, my dad bought me this red tee-shirt that read “I’m not perfect, but I’m so close….it’s scary”. He said it reminded him of me, because I was such a perfectionist. I was 7. He was right.
Fast forward 15 years and I’m the same exact person. I’ve always described myself as a perfectionist, and I’ve always taken a weird sort of pride in it.
Here is a chart I saw on Pinterest this week. Do you recognize any of these signs in yourself? I know I see quite a few (but not all) of these behaviors within myself.
In a lot of ways, perfectionism helped me excel. I got a 4.0 GPA or higher throughout high school, and I’ve always been a teachers pet. I have goals for my life, I have a plan….and I don’t like to be thrown off of my plan. I like doing things to the best of my ability. I try to strive to be the best person I can possibly be. I learn skills quickly if I put my mind to it, because I throw myself into projects. I try to exceed people’s expectations, especially my bosses or coordinators. I’m very hard on myself, but I’ve always thought of that as a good thing. I’m usually my own motivation because I compete with myself constantly.
But as I’ve become older, I realize this is just as much a curse as it is a blessing. In fact, if you do a quick search for “perfectionist” most of the results will describe perfectionism as a negative personality quirk.
Perfectionism makes me want to stop writing in a planner if I miss filling it in for one week. Why would I want to continue? It’s practically ruined! It makes me have unrealistic expectations for myself, for my career, for my body, for my environment. It makes me want to quit a project if I can’t do it as good as someone else. It makes me afraid to try because I’m very afraid of failure. It makes me stop doing things I enjoy, because it’s taking too long to improve, and so I get embarrassed.
In order to be successful, you have to stop being afraid of failure.
Steps I’m currently taking to overcome the negative aspects of perfectionism:
1.) Just start! I’m trying to start projects head on before I have a chance to overthink things and psych myself out.
2.) Take little steps towards my goals. I have a planner where I write down my current goals. I am trying to break down huge goals into what I can accomplish week by week, month by month, in 90 days. I feel more accomplished when I can check things off my list in little chunks.
3.) Have a good laugh at myself. Im trying to figure out how to have a better sense of humor about things. If I mess up, instead of getting down on myself, I’m trying to laugh about it. Some of my funniest stories/icebreakers are tales about how I failed at something I tried really hard to do right!
4.) I tell myself that no one is judging me as hard as I am. I am my own worst critic. But as long as I am making myself proud, I don’t need to concern myself with what others think of me.
5.) Strive for excellence, not perfection. This one is really hard for me. It’s something I’m still trying to learn. It’s ingrained in me that perfectionion isn’t only achievable, it should be my standard. But I know (deep inside me) that this isn’t truthful or realistic. I need to work on this!! I need to do my best, and be ok with the fact that I tried.
I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life, and I don’t think it will be something that goes away completely any time soon. However, I’m determined for it to not to get in the way of my success. That just wouldn’t fit my plan. 😂😅
What about you guys? Can any of you relate to any of these feelings? Do you, or anyone you know, deal with this? How do you keep these thoughts in control? 😄