What I have learned to relieve myself of this affliction.
If you are like me, you may suffer from perfectionism paralysis. It’s an ailment in which you care so much about doing something 100% accurately, that you end up overcome by paralysis and delay completing a task, or taking any action whatsoever. Because, what if you do something and it’s…*gasp*…not perfect? So, you delay based on fear. Fear that you will make a mistake. Fear that your one little mistake will result in the upheaval of your project, your day, your company, your career, your life, and all of mankind. Yes, it sounds a little dramatic, but for those of you out there suffering from this, you know exactly what I am talking about.
While I do believe that it is extremely important to set goals and hold yourself to a certain level of personal standards, you need to learn to manage this paralysis or you will never reach your full potential. Perfectionism paralysis is ultimately a form of self-sabotage. If you are so worried about not doing something perfect, that you don’t take any action, you will miss out on a lot of learning opportunities and experiences. There are a few important tips that I have picked up along the way that help me manage this ailment when I start to feel overcome by it. Below, I share them with you.
First off, stop yourself from catastrophizing. By far, this is the most important thing I have learned. Most things we do in life don’t need to be done perfectly. In most cases, making a mistake or producing an unintended result won’t have major negative repercussions. For example, making one mistake on a report will not ultimately result in you getting fired. Realistically, someone else will review your report, catch the error, and provide you with the opportunity to make a correction.
When you are in a similar situation described above, where you feel like you are focusing on the worst case scenario or outcome, a simple trick is to write out how you think the scenario will play out. Then write out one or two other possible, more positive outcomes, and put your focus on these. It takes some practice, but in time, you will soon start to see that not being perfect is not the end of the world, and life will indeed go on.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s impossible to live up to someone else’s standards. So set your own realistic standards, and work to those. If you are trying to live up to someone’s standards it means you are focusing on pleasing someone else, and not yourself. We should live our lives to derive happiness for ourselves, not solely others. You need to focus on your own personal path and not worry about what others think you should be doing. The only person you should compare yourself to is you. For example, how much higher did you score on this test compared to your last test? How many more sales did you make this month compared to last? Your past results are your best benchmark for measuring your accomplishments going forward.
Recognize small achievements.
Finally, it is important to take the time to sit back and write a list of all of the things you have done that you thought you would never do. Even incremental achievements or learnings should be recognized. You should congratulate yourself on even the little accomplishments, because feeling good about what you accomplish will motivate you to keep going and do more. It has been proven time and again, that people are motivated by positive reinforcement. So try not to think negatively and be so hard on yourself, as this will only cripple your ability to achieve great things.
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