by: Kelsee Hankins
Perfectionism. You little trickster, you.
We all strive to be perfect at so many things - perfect student, perfect employee, perfect partner, perfect parent, or a perfect whatever. You might even think that perfectionism is a good thing. While we’re striving to be so perfect, are we holding ourselves to some standard that we’ll never, ever achieve? Are we selling ourselves short by being too hard on ourselves? Most likely, yes.
As a creative professional myself, I know that when I’m striving for constant perfection I can end up feeling a lot of negative feelings about my work. Those feelings don’t serve my career or personal interests. I notice that I can start missing the big picture because I’m focused on so many little details. I’ll also procrastinate until the bitter end. Sometimes, I even fail to BEGIN working because I’m so hung up on everything being perfect. Then, if I do start a project, I may never finish it before throwing it aside as something altogether useless. When I start to realize that my tendencies towards perfectionism are taking over, I have to step back and think about what’s brought me to that moment.
If you’re struggling with perfectionism and noticing the negativity in your life and work, in any way, here is some of my go-to advice for smashing that beast.
Step Back & Disconnect
If you’re really struggling with completing something because it has to be perfect, walk away. Walk away for an hour, a day, a week - whatever you can. Do something that puts you in a happy mood instead. Read a book, see friends and family, scrub your bathroom, or whatever else feeds your soul. Come back with fresh eyes and a different energy.
Mistakes are Just Mistakes
Many times, perfectionism shows up with a fear of failing. Learning to see that mistakes are part of the process of life can help you move forward. Think of mistakes as learning opportunities instead.
Ask for Feedback
If you’re struggling with something that’s never “good enough,” ask for someone else to take a look at it. Why? Other people are always going to see something that you don’t - an edit, an improvement, a typo, and the list goes on. This is more about stretching your muscles to learn to accept constructive criticism and not seeing it as an attack on your self-worth.
Set SMART Goals
Perfectionists are known to set ginormous goals that are always out of reach and then they’re angry because they haven’t met their goals. If you set and reach reasonable goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Focused, and Time-bound, you’ll see that you are accomplishing things and aren’t just spinning your wheels.
Lower Your Standards
Really. Just do it. If this project/job isn’t your 100% best work, is it all that bad? Are you going to die? Is this the entire end to your career as you know it? Probably not. What is the worst outcome if it isn’t perfect? Your boss or client may be upset and you’ll need to try again. Mistakes are normal. Pick your ego up and try again. Not saying that you shouldn’t deliver good work, but instead realize that things aren’t always going to be 100% perfect.
Accept that You’ll Never Be “Done”
Life is always changing. Things will never be perfect at the same time. Also worth noting, something that is “perfect” to you, will show up completely different to someone else. Anytime you see someone who has the perfect life, the odds are that they really don’t. Life and work won’t ever be perfect, but they’ll always be an adventure - that’s what matters.
Refuse to let perfectionism crush your work and life goals. We’re supposed to make progress in life, not to be perfect in everything we do. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back from learning, growing, or taking a risk. Do the best you can every chance you get and enjoy the process.
Kelsee is a millennial lifestyle blogger based in the Midwest USA. She's all about forging her own path and breaking all the rules to get there. When she isn't writing about her travels, personal finance, or other passions on the internet, she's a professional actor/singer and teaching artist.