Few thought habits can be as destructive for our life as perfectionism.
We of all have some drops of perfectionism running through our veins. We love to be winners, to take the prize, to hear the applause, to come in at the top of the list. That aspiration to reach higher and to be the best we can be pushes us forward and urges us to grow.
But when the desire to excel turns into the need to be perfect, it robs us of our power. In fact, it can stop us dead in our tracks, eliminate the joy from life, and keep us away from growing at all.
When you’re caught in in this trap, perfectionism leads us to:
- Overemphasize your setbacks and shortcomings
- Focus on and criticize flaws, mistakes and shortcomings in yourself and others
- Believe that you’re inadequate, that you don’t measure up
- Be immobilized by fear of both failure and success
- Suffer from heightened stress, ill health and depression
- Have very high standards for themselves and others.
- Feel frustrated when they don’t meet their goals.
- Blamethem when things go wrong — even when they are not directly involved.
- Intentionally set goals they know are almost impossible to reach.
- They are hardly ever really satisfied with their performance.
Here are some ideas on overcoming perfectionism.
- Make up some rules.
- List the advantages and disadvantages of trying to be perfect.
- Work on your self esteem.
- Look at the big picture.
- Set reasonable expectations.
- Learn to laugh.
- The enemy of good is perfect.
- Give yourself a break and delegate when possible.
- Adopt the belief that “I’d rather be happy than perfect.”
- Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
- Love yourself in spite of your imperfections.
- Capture ideas.
- Do a reality check.
- Celebrate your mistakes.
- Be yourself
Maybe you’re not a perfectionist at all. Maybe your way of setting goals works for you. If that is the case then it wouldn’t make sense for you to change anything. Maybe “Healthy Striving” can help you fine-tune your approach to work and goal-setting. Just experiment and see what works for you.
The cost of setting unrealistic goals is that you always feel frustrated and disappointed when you fail. On the occasions when you do succeed, like when you had enough time to do the jigsaw puzzle above, you still didn’t feel good about it because you think you “should” have done better. Imagine the weight of all of that disappointment if you continue to set goals this way for the rest of your life!