If you’re a self-aware perfectionist, you would understand my struggle. Why self-aware? Because some are not even aware they’re driving themselves and others crazy. Perfectionism is like a disease you don’t know you have.
Wanting to be perfect can be a good thing. You wouldn’t want, say a mediocre surgeon performing surgery on you or an “I don’t give a tiny rat ass if I dig my nose in the kitchen” chef handling your food. However, too much of it can prevent you from getting a lot of things done. Instead of making things happen, you just wait around until the time is right or when you can finally produce a “masterpiece.” More often than not, the perfect moment never comes.
My perfectionism has gotten worse since I left employment to run my own business. To make matters worse, I’m quite obsessive compulsive as well. I would want everything done perfectly in a matter of hours. If I want to re-design my 300 over product image displays on the website to make it better, I had to get it done in a day. When the day turns to night, I would get all panicky because there’s no way it can be completed. A perfectionist like myself will tend to set unrealistic goals.
Take this blog for example. People closest to me would know that I’ve been blogging since 2009 but found very little success in being consistent. This is mostly due to my obsessive needs to keep re-organizing and re-vamping the whole blog. Whenever I have my mind set on certain topics I want to cover, sooner than later, I would change my mind. When I wanted to do more, I ended up doing less.
Procrastination Kicks In
Perfectionism can lead to procrastination. I procrastinate because I don’t think what I do is good enough. I always have these excuses playing in my mind that my designs are horrible, my grammar sucks, my stories aren’t interesting and the list goes on. So, I ended up with folders of “half-baked” materials that I never publish for all to see.
Coping With It
Perfectionism is not something we overcome. It’s a part of us that we just need to cope with it. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, wanting to be perfect is not a bad thing. We just need to know how to keep it under control so it doesn’t interfere with progress. How do I cope with it? There are 3 things that I keep reminding myself:
- Strive for progress, not perfection: Move forward with the goals set without waiting around for the right time or the right people to come along.
- Don’t overthink: It’s no use playing the worst-case scenarios in our mind over and over again when there’s a 98% chance that it won’t even happen.
- Mistakes are okay: Exactly what’s the worse thing that could happen right? Yes, we could die. But I haven’t come across people who died from embarrassment. It’s all psychological. Nothing a strong mind can’t handle. Besides, we really do feedback from others to improve ourselves.
If you’re also struggling with perfectionism, know this. Perfection is stagnation. Take actions and improve along the way. That will at least get you somewhere.