We all have a part of us that wants to be great. For some, it may be an intense striving for perfection to reach their full potential. For others, they may just have periodic perfectionistic tendencies. However much you identify as a perfectionist, it is helpful to be aware of and know how to overcome perfectionism when it is causing more harm than good.
A perfectionist wants to be flawless, sets excessively high standards, and is overly self-critical. To a perfectionist, anything less than perfect is unacceptable. If you are a perfectionist, the goal is to not be so wound up and to have a more balanced lifestyle.
Characteristics of Perfectionism
1. Hyper focus on mistakes. Whenever you see an error, you are the first to jump on it and correct it. You constantly spot mistakes when others don’t see any.
2. It's all-or-nothing. It’s either you do everything well, or you don’t do it at all. You have a very specific manner in which things should be done.
3. You are extremely hard on yourself. You have a negative, critical voice.
4. Irritable and stressed. Since you, everyone else, and the world we live in is not perfect, you are constantly annoyed, frustrated, unhappy with all the imperfection.
5. You have extremely high standards. You always want more. Even when you achieve X, you want 2X. Even when you achieve 2X, you want 5X. You are discontent with the status quo.
6. Procrastination. You put things off because you can only do something at the “right” moment. You think a lot about doing things, but you do not take any actions to do it.
7. You spend unnecessary time trying to perfect things. Even if something is completed, you continue to spend time and energy on it.
8. Skewed view of reality. You get tunnel vision and see things from a narrow perspective. You go past the point of diminishing returns.
9. Disregard for your health. You justify sacrificing sleep, exercise, healthy eating, relationships, and enjoyable activities, to be perfect.
10. Difficulty letting go. You can't delegate tasks to others. You beat yourself up for past mistakes. You can't stop worrying and thinking about work.
11. Broken relationships. You put your tasks before caring for people.
Steps to overcome Perfectionism
1. Set realistic goals. Stop wasting energy on the impossible. Have a more balanced lifestyle.
2. Have intentional internal dialogue. Talk to yourself. Ask yourself, "What is a different way I can look at this?" Challenge your inner critic with a more realistic and positive voice. Use positive feedback to achieve your goals rather than allowing your inner voice to constantly beat you up.
3. Increase your self-worth. Prioritize self-care and invest in yourself. Recognize that you are intrinsically valuable without having to do anything.
4. Practice saying no. You can't do everything. Practice setting healthy boundaries by saying no to ideas and opportunities that come up. Saying no to good things allows you to focus on being your best in the moment.
5. Relax. Rest is not a waste of time. Sleep is a healthy and a necessary way to recharge. Schedule breaks. Simply sit and do nothing for 15 minutes.
6. Practice having a "good enough" mindset. Trust that you are giving your best effort. When you complete a task, say "That is good enough", and move on even when it's not perfect.
7. Take a vacation to detox from your perfectionist habits. Plan a trip to leave town and spend time in a new environment.
8. Don't try to multi-task. Stop doing many things at the same time. It decreases efficiency and creates more stress. Practice giving your undivided attention to one task.
9. Do not hold others to your standards. People are different from you. Bite your tongue when you want to judge and critique others, even when you think you are trying to help. Practice acceptance of others. Be understanding of people's perspectives and their ways of doing things.
10. Overcome your excuses. Be aware of the excuses you make. When you hear yourself making excuses, overcome it by engaging with the task and/or moving onto the next task.
11. Be content with vulnerability. Accept your weaknesses. Admit your mistakes. It is okay not to be okay. Celebrate your positive qualities, your talents, abilities, and accomplishments.