5 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism
I can be a bit high-strung. Okay, maybe that's an understatement. Those who know me best know that I can be uptight and controlling at times. I don't say that because I'm proud of it-- I'm not proud of it at all! I'm just being honest and letting you know where I'm coming from here. I'm writing this just as much for myself as I am for you.
I lean toward perfectionism, but I'm working on it. How, exactly? By employing a few methods I highly recommend if perfectionism is your struggle, too!
Adopt a Mantra
Your mantra can be whatever you want to be. I have found that reminding myself that I don't have to be perfect is good, but it really helps to have a short, memorable phrase to pull out when I stumble back into my perfectionist ways. Try one of these: one is better than perfect, nobody's perfect,
Try one of these: one is better than perfect, nobody's perfect, perfect's overrated, we all make mistakes, mistakes are a good way to learn, there's always room to grow. Or come up with your own!
I personally like to remind myself that perfect is overrated, experience is the best teacher, and done is better than perfect.
Let Someone Else Do it Their Way
By letting someone else do something their way, not the way you would prefer, you'll see that it's okay if things don't go the way you want all the time. You'll be forced to bend a little, making it easier for the next time! You might have to bite your tongue to get through it, resisting the urge to ask them to do it differently or suggest a way that you think is better, easier, or more efficient, but perhaps you'll find their way works just as well or even better! And they will undoubtedly appreciate your willingness to let them do it their way instead of yours.
I sometimes find that I have a hard time letting other people do things their way when I think my way is better. But my way isn't actually always better; I just think it is because it's what I'm used to. Sometimes I need to remind myself that other people's preferred methods are just as valid as mine, and they deserve to be given the opportunity to do things their way. It's not easy, but it's a good exercise to stretch my understanding and perspective.
You might have to bite your tongue to get through it, resisting the urge to ask them to do it differently or suggest a way that you think is better, easier, or more efficient, but perhaps you'll find their way works just as well or even better! And they will undoubtedly appreciate your willingness to let them do it their way instead of yours.
Talk it Through
You could have a conversation with someone close to you about your need for things (cleanliness, organization, work projects, or whatever it is) to be just so. Many times, I've found that saying it out loud helps me realize either how ridiculous it sounds or helps me process it in a new way that lends itself to greater understanding and working toward becoming more relaxed.
Your friend may also have great insight into your struggles or practical advice for overcoming them! It's a win-win. It might be especially helpful to talk to someone with similar struggles who can empathize and share their own experiences.
Whether I'm talking with a friend who empathizes or with someone whose ways are frustrating me because they aren't my ways, admitting my frustrations and tendencies toward perfectionism out loud always gives me better perspective. It's not a one-step cure because I still have to give myself and those around me grace to do things in a less-than-perfect (or merely a different, not-Jessie) way, which is certainly a challenge, but admitting it is the first step!
Set a Timer
Set a timer, and commit to calling your project "done" when the timer goes off, even if it doesn't feel finished. It can be incredibly hard to walk away when you know you could spend another hour tweaking things to make them just so, but if you've gotten the bulk of the work done, chances are nobody else is going to notice if you would have picked a different font, changed the color, or written another sentence. It's fine just the way it is.
Committing to the timer will help you focus on the task at hand, honing your time management skills, and it will teach you to recognize when your work is good enough to be called done. It really doesn't have to be perfect, and if you do your best and walk away when you're finished, you can move on to another project or to other things entirely.
Ask for Feedback
It might seem counter-intuitive, because the main goal of getting feedback is to find ways to improve, but every time I ask for constructive feedback, I'm reminded that my work can always get better, but even so, it has its merits right now. It helps me balance the good with the bad, and it provides an outside perspective that I'm often desperately in need of.
Feeling a need to do things perfectly can stem from insecurity, thinking that our work (and ourselves or our lives) need to be perfect and pristine before we can present them to the world. Getting feedback can remind us that our work (and ourselves and our lives) are welcome, good, and far better than we thought even in their imperfect state. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.
Do you have any tips and tricks for abandoning your perfectionist tendencies? Did you come up with a mantra to use? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!