I’m sometimes asked how I get things done when I’m a perfectionist. It’s an understandable question. Perfectionists tend to strive for perfection, so why would they do anything if they knew failure was a potential result?
I’m not paralyzed by perfectionism for a number of reasons. The top nine are:
- Perfectionism negates creation. I am an idea person. If I have an idea, I want to run with it. I can’t do that if I’m focused on all the things that might be wrong with an existing project or could go wrong with a new one.
- Perfectionism is the wrong standard. The right standard is grace. Grace lets me get off the ground when I fail. Perfectionism keeps me there.
- Perfectionism may be strong, but it may not be stronger than a competitive attitude. This attitude basically tells the perfectionism to shove off. It says, “I can do this, and don’t you dare try to stop me.”
- Perfectionism is a prison. Perfectionism keeps me focused on the failures. It tells me I’m no good and to give up. It says I’ll never make it. These thoughts are shackles. They keep me from doing what I’m called to do.
- Perfectionism limits learning. I like to learn new things. I like to take on challenges like the Tough Mudder, cross fit, and salsa dancing. I know very well that I’m no athlete or dancer, but I’m not going to let the perfectionism keep me from doing my best with those things.
- Perfectionism sours moments. One reason I quit Krav Maga is that the classes made my perfectionist tendencies spiral out of control. I wanted to take a class where I could be imperfect and laugh at those imperfections. Krav Maga was not that class, so I quit.
- Perfectionism isolates. Perfectionism often results in classic avoidance behavior or obsessive compulsive behaviors. Neither are healthy.
- Perfectionism is based on pride. Perfectionism may – eventually, eventually – produce quality work, but it’s going to be work done by the me, myself, and I. There is no humbleness. There is no collaboration, which is something I dearly love and champion.
- Perfectionism is rooted in fear. Perfectionism may seemingly be rooted in a fear of failure, but I think it’s deeper than that. I’ve begun to think the fear found in perfectionism has more to do with the idea that one won’t be loved or accepted because of mistakes made or wrongs done. The irony is that perfect love casts out fear, but perfect love has little to do with perfection and everything to do with grace (see #2 above).
Perfectionists or anyone with similar struggles, what say you? How do you overcome analysis paralysis?