Life, especially once you move out of home, is full of opportunities to make new discoveries about your character. You’ll occasionally have moments where you say ‘aaaaHHAA!! That explains me so well!’ or ‘oh my goodness, that is SO me!’. From this point of recognition, you can seek to equip yourself with means that embrace and/or control those characteristics or habits, in ways that help you meet your goals whilst living a full and happy life. I had one of those revelations last week whilst listening to a talk by the QLD Law Society regarding typical lawyer personality attributes. I identified with one of those attributes, perfectionism. Despite not being a perfectionist in the extreme sense, I realised there were still elements of it which were hindering my efficiency, success and happiness.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is constantly striving for extremely high standards, standards which others are likely to consider to be unrealistic in the given circumstances. Perfectionists largely derive their self-worth from the ability to meet these high and unrelenting standards. Even though the perfectionist may experience negative results (such as procrastination, poor health, persistent sense of failure, worry, depression, eating disorders, frustration, isolation) as a result of pursuing such standards, they continue to do so anyway.
High standards are good, but not good when they are unachievable or only achievable by great impact to your health. I know first hand how unrelenting personal-pressure to meet extremely high goals can affect ones health, both mentally and physically. And whilst I struggle to write this (knowing I’ll need to sip my own medicine), it is really worth taking steps to avoid placing such pressure on yourself.
Why is perfectionism bad?
- tend to focus on the trivial matters, rather than the big picture, which means things can take forever to complete;
- are pushed towards their goals by fear of not reaching them, rather than being pulled towards their goals and enjoying the process;
- find it hard to feel satisfied with any progress because you’re so focused on getting to that goal;
- procrastinate for fear of not completing the process perfectly and consequentially fail to reach their goals;
- are very sensitive to criticism;
- expect others to work to the same high standards and it’s frustrating for them (and others) when others fail to meet those standards;
- wear themselves out because it is very tiring trying to meet impossible (or nearly impossible) standards.
I identified with many of these (in varying degrees) across many areas in my life – work, study, exercise, body image, weight and relaxation time. So here is my new goal, which I know is going to me much happier:
Not sure if you’re a perfectionist? Consider this:
If you answered true or somewhat true, perfectionism might be something you want to work on.
If you would be interested in reading more about how to overcome perfectionism in areas of your life, please let me know in the comments below so I can write a post for you or email you. Lets work on it together!
Do you struggle with striving for perfection? How do you make sure you acknowledge your progress whilst pursuing your big goals?
P.S. You asked for the post on overcoming perfectionism, so here it is!