How to overcome perfectionism: 5 powerful habits to get more done

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order - Anne Wilson Schaef
We all know someone who needs things to be “just right”, maybe you are that person. And in this day and age where everyone needs to be “hustling” and expressing their X factor, there can be a lot of pressure to be excellent. Because having high standards and working hard really does produce results. And that’s what makes this problem such a catch 22. Being conscientious and thorough are praised, workaholism is among the most acceptable of addictions and we often throw around maxims like “you can never be too careful.” (Spoiler alert: actually, you can.)

But when you’re rewarded all your life for being thorough, detailed, and producing high quality results, it doesn’t merely become a habit — it becomes your identity.

Personally, I’ve certainly had moments of needing a project or task to be “perfect” before I released it, failing to realise that perfectionism was an attempt to avoid all rejection, all criticism, and all failure. I was a chronic Starter, but very rarely could I say I was a Finisher.

Case in point: It took 2 years to start The New 1% Podcast; 3 years to start a YouTube channel; and a month to create this blog post (the thumbnail didn't look good when I shared it *eye roll*)

It’s been a journey, but in eventually realizing this, I’ve determined 2 things to be true:

1. Perfect doesn’t exist

2. Perfectionism is really procrastination all dressed up.

You see, I’m incredibly proud of everything I create and put out into the world and of course, I want my best self to be presented so it’s natural to want to produce something of high quality. Perfectionism and a desire to excel, though, are two very different things.

A desire to do your best is reasonable and flexible. A need to be perfect on the other hand is rigid and demanding. It is also self-defeating. If we’re busy chasing the illusion of perfection, then all that ends up happening is you never show up to the race. You lose by default.

You know that expression, “practice makes perfect”, well perfect is really just the carrot dangling in front of your face as a bribe to even start practicing. The magic happens in the consistency, in the showing up time and time again, in the effort put into improving your craft.

The good news, though, is that because so many other people are held captive and crippled by their fear so often, you’re already going to be seen as amazing because you’re often the ONLY damn person in the freakin’ race!

There’s a couple of strategies you can use right now to overcome perfectionism and beging taking action!

1. Go for good enough.

This is not an excuse to slack off, but a project is better finished than being a ‘masterpiece’ that is never complete. Find a balance between good work ethic, good work, and not getting lost in continual improvements and never-ending polishing. I live by the mantra, “done is better than perfect”. You’ll also feel more accomplished putting more work out there in the same time it would take to ‘perfect’ one task.

2. Realize that you do more harm to yourself and others by buying into the myths of perfection.

When your standards and expectations are too high, your reality can be highly impacted. Others that work with you, your partner, your friends, can all wear the burden of your high standards, and perfectionism can end up clashing wildly with your reality and may lead to destruction in any of these areas.

3. Compare yourself to yourself.

Low self esteem can often be magnified when you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. There is always going to be someone ahead of you in life, but that is not to say that your stage is by any means inferior. It is important to have role models, but stay focused on your own race. Blinders on and appreciate where you’ve come from and how much you’re accomplishing.

4. Raise your environment.

Cut out the noise that leads you to destructive perfectionist thought patterns and surround yourself with people who are positive, trying to live positive lives, and have a good balance in life. Emotions are contagious! Seek out the people and activities that lift you up and are supporting your journey and goals.

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