When you strive for perfectionism, it’s easy to be disappointed. We’re all human. Some days (and especially lately), it is enough just to do a good job; striving for perfection can be exhausting and entirely unnecessary. Most of the time, “done” is better than perfect!
Perfectionism: the #1 cause of procrastination
Many people view perfectionism as a positive attribute, but in truth, perfectionism can actually be very harmful to your success. Its important to feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you complete a task or project. Perfectionists are rarely, if ever, satisfied. Perfectionist tendencies can be limited to certain areas or activities. For example, perfectionism could be based on cleanliness, scholastic standings, table manners, athletic skills, work product, etc. Perfectionism is a major productivity killer.
When we are struggling with multiple priorities in our lives and on our plates, sometimes just checking a task off your list will set you on a better path to productivity than trying to do the task “perfectly”. Momentum can be powerful. Perfection can lead to paralysis – the inability to even make ANY forward progress, let alone complete something. You never feel like you are doing something well enough, so it goes unfinished. Some days, though, what you feel is just “good enough” might be “perfect” to someone else! Shift your perspective and just make progress. Perfectionism may just be a roadblock that you can overcome by trying a few strategies.
Strategies to beat perfectionism paralysis
1. Address the source
Do you know where your perfectionist drive stems from? For example, if it’s lingering from childhood expectations someone else held for you, it’s ok to let that go. Once you get to the bottom of why you feel the need or desire to do things perfectly, you can get curious about if and how that’s serving you and decide to make a change.
2. Focus on the “why”
If you have a compelling reason for wanting to accomplish something, let that drive your progress and help you get over the need to do it perfectly. If your “good” work can deliver to satisfy the “why”, then that’s good enough!
3. Face the fear
You may have a fear of failure or a fear of success that has you worried about doing something perfectly; face the fear and do it anyway.
4. Just get started
Don’t worry about a perfect first step, just take a first step. Let it inform your next step. Progress leads to completion.
5. Eat that frog!
Do the hardest, most important thing first. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly, but do it before other things get in your way.
6. Ask for accountability
Share with someone else what you intend to do and by when. Ask them to hold you accountable.
7. Block time (and honor it)
Reserve time on your calendar to accomplish something and then get to it.
Remember a few of my favorite Mantras:
1. Respect the container
If you decide that a task or activity is worth x amount of time, don’t let the need to get something perfect double that time or allow it to bleed into other parts of your day. If you want to write a blog post in one hour, set a timer and push to get it done in the container you’ve allotted.
2. Done is better than perfect
Almost every time! Trust me. And others will thank you for this too.
3. Go for a “B”
Your “B” work is great! Do you really need to do “A” level work on everything? When is a B good enough, preserving time, energy and attention for other work? I’m not suggesting that you do half-a$$ work, but if you do “B” work and it gets out there and adds value, isn’t that better than striving for an “A” each time, taking an inordinate amount of time to do so or never completing something because it doesn’t get that grade in your mind?
4. “Oh well”
Occasionally we all make mistakes. Most of them will be minor. If a small mistake doesn’t detract significantly from the impact of getting work done, now and then we can be accepting and just say “oh well”. Let it go. Know that the benefit of completion and the value of accomplishment far outweigh the tiny typo that will occasionally slip through the cracks.
Is this speaking to you? You’re in good company. I’m a Recovering Perfectionist!
Is there something you are putting off or procrastinating on because you feel you can’t complete it “perfectly”? If so, you are in very good company! The good news is there are ways to break free from this cycle. I could easily be stuck in a cycle of perfectionism just writing this blog post, for example. Did I share enough helpful information? Did I miss sharing something important that could benefit someone? But at some point, I just need to know I did the best I could, at this moment. It might not be perfect to me, but it might be perfect to you, and better than not sharing anything at all.
Let us help you break out of your cycle of perfectionism, if that is stopping you from getting things done. Contact us to learn how we can help you to move forward on your to do list and be free of perfection paralysis! This is a popular coaching topic that clients of our Six-Month Productivity Transformation package work through to accomplish what they want in less time. Schedule a free Discovery Call with Debbie if you’d like to learn more about that package and how coaching can help you accelerate your results with greater ease. Have more time for what matters most!