It’s great when people demand a lot from themselves, because it provides motivation to grow and excel. However, when the standards you set for yourself or for society are too high, it’s a form of perfectionism that needs to be dealt with. Let’s talk about how to do that.
How can you overcome perfectionism?
The most important thing in overcoming excessive perfectionism is acknowledging the problem. A perfectionist will often refuse to admit that there’s an issue. Once they’ve acknowledged the problem, a perfectionist can move past it by keeping the following principles in mind:
1. Our world is far from perfect. This is part of its charm. It cannot be changed by one person alone. Fortunately, there is no need for that. No man is an island, as the saying goes.
2. Chasing after an ideal can end up costing you too dearly. You should never abandon a goal just because the hypothetical result may not be perfect.
3. Always keep in mind your achievements, especially when something seems to be turning out differently than you expected. Whenever you start painting the world black, remind yourself that life is filled with things capable of inspiring optimism. It might be a good idea to start a journal to keep score of your progress and success.
4. There are two sides to every coin, and any failure comes with positive moments. You just need to be able to spot them. Learn to see the positive in any negative. Life is filled with many pleasant moments, which, unfortunately, we do not always notice. Make a point of focusing on them. Always keep in mind that the same glass can be half empty or half full depending on your attitude.
5. You can’t please everyone. If you are reading this, you have already reached the age when you can afford not to depend on the opinions of others and do what you think is necessary. The fact is, there aren’t that many people in the world whose opinions are truly valuable and important to you. And those people value your personal qualities – such as kindness, emotional generosity, diligence, responsibility, and sense of humor – above your achievements.
6. Try not to compare yourself to others, no matter how tempted you might be. Stop yourself when you start criticizing your own actions. Each of us is unique, and unique things can’t be compared. Write down all your strong points on a sticky note and put it somewhere where you can see it so that you’ll always be reminded of how unique and special you are.
7. Avoid chasing after everything at once. Choose a single direction to move in at this point in your life. By defining your priorities, you will achieve a lot more, step by step.
8. Don’t set big goals. Break them into smaller and more realistic ones instead. That way you will be able to achieve the desired result without wasting your time and energy.
9. Learn to delegate. This will save you time, letting you focus and complete the tasks at hand better. If the person you assigned a task or responsibility to did not live up to your expectations, you can jump in at any time to make the necessary adjustments.
10. An imperfect result isn’t the end of the world. Any mistake is a lesson that will help you avoid bigger defeats. Any failure is a springboard for achieving new goals. (This is something we already discussed.)
11. Perfection does not equal success. It’s important not to let this fact out of your sight while you are chasing an ideal. You need to realize that the very pursuit of success is what counts.
12. “Best” is the enemy of “good.” In some cases, even “too good” is bad, because it leaves no room for uniqueness. Only a soulless robot can do a flawless job. It’s typical of humans to be less than perfect and do things the same imperfect way that they always do. If you remove all imperfections, that special something that makes the result unique will be lost.
13. Finally, try revisiting how you evaluate results. You’ll be more satisfied with the results of your efforts, and the efforts of others, if your “grading system” allows you to overlook small imperfections.
Is there a positive side to perfectionism?
Perfectionism is useful until it turns into an obsession. For instance, a perfectionist employee is a terrific find for any boss. Not only are such people assertive and responsible, they are also demanding of others.
In short, perfectionism that promotes growth is useful, as it helps the person grow and excel in their career. The most important thing is to know when to stop so you don’t become prisoner to your misconceptions. If a perfectionist can do that, their world will get bright with color again and any goals they’ve set will stop being unattainable.
Perfectionism is often equated with black-and-white thinking, but they are different concepts. We will discuss the peculiarities of black-and-white thinking next time.
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