Are you a perfectionist?
Does it make you crazy when you do something and it isn’t 100% perfect?
How do you react when other people do things for you that you do not consider perfect?
Do you get angry and want to argue with them?
I have to admit that I was a perfectionist. In my early days in business I would sometimes go ballistic if things didn’t work out just the way I wanted them. Things flying around the room happened on more occasions than I am embarrassed to admit.
I had a few run-ins with my business partner in the early days because he didn’t do some things the way I thought they should be done. It was even worse with the people that we employed.
I just couldn’t accept that they didn’t always do things perfectly. I ended up creating unnecessary problems. There is nothing wrong with setting high standards for yourself and your team – but perfectionism is a road to nowhere.
I remember one time I was designing a new logo for a website that we wanted to launch. It took me days to get it perfect. My business partner couldn’t believe the amount of time I had spent on it. He told me that the first version I came up with was really good but to me it wasn’t perfect.
I am not sure that I even realised that I had a perfectionism problem back then. I certainly should have seen the signs. Anyway I did become aware of the problem at some stage and I took steps to overcome my perfectionism that I will share with you in this post.
Before I get into the techniques that I use I want to bring to your attention a few of the problems that being a perfectionist can cause:
- You will be less happy
- It will drain your self confidence
- It stops you from getting things done
- It puts a dent in your passion
- It holds you back and stops you growing as a person
You might not even realise that some of these things are happening to you. But they probably are so please read this post from beginning to end and take on board the methods below to overcome your perfectionism.
1. Recognise that you have a Perfectionism Problem
As I said earlier it took me a while to realise that I had a perfectionism problem. This may be a problem for you too. Perfectionism can be disguised for wanting to achieve high standards. They are not the same thing. Striving for excellence is a great thing but striving for perfectionism isn’t.
If you are not sure if you have a perfectionism problem or not ask yourself these questions:
- Is it difficult for you to achieve the standards you set for yourself?
- Do you fear failure when you are trying to achieve something?
- Do you hate making mistakes?
- Do you find that you never get everything done that you want to because you go over your work again and again?
- Do people tell you that you are a perfectionist?
- Does doing things perfectly relate directly to your self confidence?
- Do you have a number of projects that you started but never finished?
If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions then the chances are that you have an issue with perfectionism.
2. Aim for “Good Enough”
You need to change your aim from perfectionism to “good enough”. When you always aim for perfectionism the result is usually a lot of unfinished tasks or projects. There is nothing wrong with good enough. It does not mean that your standards are slipping.
One thing that we all have the same amount of is time. There are only 24 hours a day and you can’t get any more. Perfectionism is a giant time stealer. Switching to good enough will enable you to accomplish much more every day.
It is not always easy to transition from perfect to good enough but you need to stick with it. In the beginning I found myself thinking “what’s the point?” and even doing less work than normal. Do not use the transition as an excuse to do less. That is not the point. It is all about finding the right balance and practice will achieve that.
I remember my business partner telling me a story about a friend of his that had always wanted to write a book. He used to call his friend often and was staggered to find out that after a year he had not written a single chapter.
His friend asked if he could help so he agreed to meet him at his home. When he got there he found notepads full of ideas and an empty word processing screen on his computer. His friend told him that everything he had written was not perfect enough. He told him that it is better to create something that is not quite perfect rather than perfect nothingness!
3. You are Hurting Yourself and those around you with Perfectionism
This isn’t a method so much as a good way to motivate yourself to stop being a perfectionist. It can be a rough road letting go of perfectionism and you may need all of the help you can get.
The problem is that we are surrounded by messages of perfectionism. In the advertising world the message is that your life will be perfect if you buy a certain product. Then there are those Hollywood movies depicting the perfect life.
Don’t let this stuff fill your head with nonsense. A perfect life doesn’t exist. Yes it sounds wonderful and you probably really crave it at times. But just remember that being a perfectionist is hurting you and the people around you.
Always keep this in your mind when you are falling back into perfectionism (which could certainly happen). You could be doing a lot of damage to yourself and you will certainly be making those around you unhappy.
4. You are Human and so is everyone else
When you are setting standards for yourself make sure that they are humanly possible! This is why transitioning from perfect to good enough works so well. If you have employees then set them human standards to aim for as well.
Making mistakes is a human trait. If it wasn’t then we would not have a lot of things that we take for granted today. Do you think that inventors get everything perfect when they create something? Of course they don’t. If they were perfectionists then they would have probably given up on the idea and moved on to something else.
Tell yourself that you are a well balanced human and most other people are too. There is no such thing as the perfect product so stop trying to create one or expect this when you purchase something.
5. Stop Comparing yourself to others
This is a classic. You need to accept that there are always going to be people that are better at things than you are. Never let this get in the way of your success. Some property investors are better at finding great deals than others. Does this mean that you cannot succeed as a property investor? Of course not!
Comparing yourself to others is a great way to make you feel inferior. If you like feeling inferior then go for it – I don’t so I stop comparing myself to others years ago. The one person that you can compare yourself to is yourself.
Take a look at what you have achieved and revel in these accomplishments. Think about the things that you had to overcome in your life and be proud of how much you have grown. Focus on the things that you have done and what you are doing now rather than worrying about what others are doing.
6. Do what you think is Right
Do not let other people’s expectations of you define your reality. I am including the media in this. If you try to live your life as those articles suggest you should then you would not be happy. In fact many of these articles contradict each other by promoting different lifestyle choices.
Just do the things that you think are right. It will make decision making a lot easier for you. You do not want to waste your valuable time on small decisions because you are not sure if you are living your life the way others expect you to.
Try to avoid people that are perfectionists. They will grind you down and sap your energy. If you have to associate with them then tell them to read this post so at least they will realise that they have a perfectionism problem.