Friday, March 4, 2011

Hello, I'm ____ and I'm A Perfectionist...

Perfection, fortunately, is not the only alternative to mediocrity. A more sensible alternative is excellence. Striving for excellence is stimulating and rewarding; striving for perfection--in practically anything--is both neurotic and futile.
-Edwin Bliss

The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.
-George Will

"Hi, I'm ____, and I'm a perfectionist." How many of us could put our name on the line? I'll admit it-I'm a recovering perfectionist. I've spent many years challenging the thinking, expectations, and standards that kept me trapped in the perfectionist struggle for years. Another thing I'll admit-I'm NOT perfect (*gasp*) at staying away from perfectionist standards 100% of the time. That's right. I'm not perfect at not trying to be a perfectionist.

Before we can start to challenge and change some of the beliefs and expectations behind perfectionism, I think it's important to understand what is involved in this process.  So, how about a little education & discussion on perfectionism, and then moving on to the challenge (you all know how much I love challenging our automatic thoughts!)?

1. Perfectionists CAN be Procrastinators. This seems like the opposite would be true. For example, the idea that perfectionists finish everything way before they need to have it done. This may certainly be the case, but perfectionists can also be procrastinators (and people who define themselves as a procrastinator may, without realizing it, be a perfectionist!). With perfectionism there is such a fear of failure (of not meeting the unrealistic expectations that have been set), and this fear becomes paralyzing.
2. Perfectionism is a Losing Game! No matter how hard you try, you won't be perfect. Realistically, we can say that. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. However, we trap ourselves in a series of lies that tell us that if we only do x,y,and z, we will be perfect. And within the "rules" of perfectionism game, unless we are perfect, we are a failure. Therefore, perfectionism is a losing game (even if we can occasionally delude ourselves into believing that we can win at the game).
3. More then likely, you will actually be more successful if you strive for doing well instead of strive to be perfect. We tend to believe the myth that if we release our tight grip on our standards and strict rules for living, that we will quickly slide back into being unsuccessful, getting bad grades, or failing at our relationships. However, when we can let go of some of that fear and control, we tend to stay motivated in a healthy way, and can engage more fully in what we're doing (both work AND in relationships!).

So, my perfectionism says that I want to be incredibly thorough in giving information. However, I know that I tend to start skimming long posts instead of actually reading and thinking about them, and I want to watch a little TV on this Friday night. So, I will keep this post as is, and continue the discussion of perfectionism tomorrow:)

*you can find the rest of my series on perfectionism here.

Here's what I'd like to know from you:
Do you struggle with perfectionism? What are some of the unrealistic beliefs about perfectionism that you have seen or experienced?And finally: Any fun plans for the weekend?


  1. I have struggled with perfectionism since I was a little girl. I think if I can't do it perfectly I shouldn't do it at all or if the end result is not perfect I have wasted my time. The stupid part is it it is good, then I think it must be so easy anyone can do it. I make myself into a loser no matter what!

  2. I agree with Jojesek's comment and I'm a recovering perfectionist as well!

    I woke up one day when a friend of mine told me "Perfectionism doesn't bring profits" in the sense that I kept procrastinating on a project trying to make it perfect. Well, all the while I kept dallying around trying to get it to "perfect" I was missing out on actually success.

    Loved this post and hope it helps other perfectionists come around :-)