Let Go of Perfectionism
The very first assistant I hired never made a mistake on my schedule, and my clients loved her because she was so kind with them on the phone. She had great ideas and an ability to find the answer to a problem no matter how long it took.
The problem was that it took forever. Everything took forever. Nothing was ever done because she did it over and over to get it just right. At the same time, she had trouble showing up. Yes, I mean she often didn't come to work. If she couldn't come on time and perfectly ready to work, she didn't come. And anything and everything was an excuse.
Her perfectionism made her unable to function. Let go of perfectionism: it is grossly inefficient and could get you fired.
Perfectionism And Fear Of Failure
Perfectionism causes tons of anxiety. Thinking "I failed" if something is not perfect takes up so much energy. We either kill ourselves to get it perfect, or not even try so we don't fail. Both options causing undo anxiety.
I was inspired for this post in a session yesterday with someone with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). She chose the later option when dealing with her house. She said that it was a mess and that she has the capability of organizing it, "but it would never be perfect nor stay perfect" so she doesn't attempt it to avoid this failure. If she cannot do everything, she doesn't do anything. Yet she laments her messy house.
Her ego tries to protect her and makes her suffer more.
It made me think of myself and my opposite-of-perfectionism-attitude, especially when it comes to my house. I am so thankful I don't have this kind of anxiety.
Let Go Of Perfectionism: It Is Grossly Inefficient
Lucille Ball says: "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do."
That's because busy people have no time to be perfect or to procrastinate. Like me. I have no time for such nonsense. People come to my home and express surprise at its neatness and uncluttered appearance, especially given my husband and I both work full time and have small children.
Because you have not been to my house, I have to report that my home is not in any way immaculate. But it is relatively uncluttered and this makes all the difference. When you walk into a house that is cluttered, it feels different energetically than a house that is uncluttered.
This is how I maintain it: I spend zero time worrying about it. Instead, I take action. (Action is always how to counter anxiety.) While I go outside to feed the chickens, I take the empty jars down. If I have a moment, I sneak in sorting through and recycling the mail. I have two minutes before the bus comes and you still find me putting away half the laundry quick-quick. I get lunches ready while putting away the left over dinner. I leave the kitchen and I take that broken toy that has been on the counter all week and glue it together. I get rid of things I don't need daily. Price tags from the new shirt goes right in the recycle bin instead of on the dresser. Used tissues go right in the garbage.
I keep up by doing one little thing and never worrying about the rest of it. When you add the little things together you get a neat house.
People who are perfectionists do one little thing and then berate themselves because it is not enough. I am happy and celebrate that one little thing. This makes all the difference in helping me sustain an uncluttered house - and an uncluttered, anti-perfectionist state of mind.
How do you let go of perfectionism? You just decide to. You realize that the expectations are unreasonable and hurt you, You choose to let go of them. You don't judge yourself. Ever. When the expectations come back, without judgment or frustration, you let go again.
And you? How do you let go of perfectionism?
You May Also Like:
Lobozzo, J. (2013, March 13). Let Go of Perfectionism, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, November 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2013/03/let-go-of-perfectionism
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
I'm glad to know that you find this website to be helpful. Jodi is the one who wrote this terrific post. While she is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, Anthony and I will continue to write about various aspects of anxiety. I hope you return!
[...] the moment, I practice suspending the story. I say “practice” because it doesn’t have to be perfect and I am always far from perfect with it. I tend to be gentle with myself. The more I am struggling [...]
I had the issue of perfectionism at work. My boss noticed it and said to me one day, "just do it. Don't think, just do it." As long as I said that to myself, I got more done. I had the habit of re-reading things, reworking a sentence structure, until I had it just right in a report. I had very good reports, but they slowed me down. I have learned to just do something and not think about it so much, just do it.
That is great testimony to what I was saying! Perfect is such a waste of time. I am glad you have developed the skill to move over it, and get things done. I must make you feel better!
I love the Lucille Ball quote. That's very true for me. The busier I am, the more I get done. That's why I like being busy.