Being a reforming perfectionist myself, I am acutely aware of the failings of being a person why tries to do things right, only to realise I don’t necessarily get around to doing enough of the right things.
Perfectionism is like that, anchoring you to one obsession just long enough that you remain unproductive in it …and in almost everything else. If you can identify yourself here, why not try the following next time you want to achieve something?
1. Get started. Whether a project is for business or pleasure, it is too easy to procrastinate when it comes to starting. So, just start! This doesn’t mean ‘no planning’, but getting on with it allows you to develop the ideas in the doing rather than in the thinking and then to refine later.
2. Think steps. An elephant is eaten one bite at a time. The second bite can’t be taken until after the first. The first bite may not be the best, but it can be celebrated and the second can be taken just like it. Manageable steps break a project down but they also get it done and sometimes its better getting it done less than perfectly than not getting it done at all.
3. Define ‘finished’. Knowing the acceptable minimum standard prevents the feeling that a job is never done until it is perfect. There’s always a ‘second edition’!
4. Crave feedback. It’s the “breakfast of champions”. Many perfectionists avoid confronting their imperfection but miss the vital input of those who see and think differently. Fear of failure can rob us of an opportunity to overcome it.
Finally, it you really are a perfectionist, then it may not help to be told that you can’t be good, better or best at everything. But what is that all about? Try and identify where that thinking comes from. As a Christian, it has helped me to know that my security is not in what I think about myself or what others think of me, but in knowing that I am accepted by God, who just ain’t ever finished with me yet!