Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Some of us (perfectionists, especially) fuss so much over making the ‘right’ choice, but in life, all that’s really needed is to make any’ good’ choice, believe in it, go through with it, and accept the consequences.”
“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
While spending much time working on my new book during the last month I felt old thought patterns pop up. Perfectionism reared its unsettling and distracting head.
So I had to redirect my focus. Use a couple of techniques and strategies and remind myself of a few things to be able to avoid procrastination, stop the polishing and get the book done. I’ll share that worked for me below (plus a few tips that have been effective in the past).
1. Go for good enough.
Aiming for perfection usually winds up in a project or something else never being finished. So go for good enough instead. Don’t use it as an excuse to slack off. But simply realize that there is something called good enough and when you are there then you are finished with whatever you are doing.
So find a balance for yourself where you do good work and don’t slack off but at the same time don’t get lost in trying to improve and polish something too much. How to find that balance? I have found it through experience.
2. Have a deadline.
A few months ago, I set a deadline for when my book should be finished. I had realized that just working on it and releasing it when it was done would not work. Because I could always find stuff to add to it. So I had to set a deadline.
Setting a deadline gave me a kick in the butt and it is generally good way to help you to let go of a need to polish things a bit too much.
3. Realize that you hurt yourself and the people around you by buying into myths of perfection.
By watching too many movies, listening to too many songs and just taking in what the world is telling you it is very easy to be lulled into dreams of perfection. It sounds so good and wonderful and you want it.
But in real life it clashes with reality and tends to cause much suffering and stress within you and in the people around you. It can harm or possibly lead you to end relationships, jobs, projects etc. just because your expectations are out of this world.
I find it very helpful to remind myself of this simple fact.
Whenever I get lost in a perfectionist headspace I remind myself that it will cause me and my world harm. And so it become easier to switch my focus and thought patterns because I want to avoid making stupid choices and avoid causing myself and other people unnecessary pain.
4. Accept that you are human and so is everyone else.
Set human standards for everyone and accept that life is like that.
Everything and everyone has flaws and things don’t always go as planned. You can still improve things but they will never be perfect. And realize that you won’t be rejected if things or you aren’t perfect. At least not by reasonably well-balanced human beings, like most people actually are in reality.
5. Compare yourself to yourself.
Comparing yourself to other people on a regular basis can easily lead to feeling inferior. There will always be a lot of people ahead of you in any area of life. So compare yourself to yourself. See your improvement, see how far you have come. Appreciate yourself and focus what you have done and are doing rather than what everyone else is doing.
6. Do what you think is the right thing.
So you realize that perfectionism will harm you and you try to avoid it. But people and media and the society around you have an influence over how you think and feel.
One of the best ways I have found to practically lessen that influence is by doing the right thing as much as possible. When you do that other people’s expectations have less and less power of over you and you get in control instead.
Because by doing the right thing your esteem of yourself goes up and other people’s opinions about you and life will matter less to you. Instead of their influence being like a tsunami flooding over you it flows right over you. Or bounces off you. Because now you have become stronger, more certain in who you are and you are not so easily swayed by external forces.
7. Live in an environment of human standards.
Emotions are contagious. So is perfectionism. Even though you can lessen the impact that your environment has you can also work at the other end of things and shape your environment to lessen the influence of perfectionism.
Read magazines with realistic expectations. Reduce the perfectionism in your world by reducing or cutting out the media sources that every week try to reinforce it in you.
Spend less time with nervously perfectionistic people and more time with people who are trying to improve themselves and/or are living a good life in a positive, healthy and relaxed way.
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