Perfectionism Sucks

(the life right out of you)

Why is that? What’s wrong with doing everything RIGHT? How can that hurt me? Bottom line – it isn’t sustainable. It actually isn’t possible. You may be perfect in the way you dress, sort of, for one day according to a magazine you read. You may be perfect in the way you work, according to your last boss some days.

The tricky part about perfectionism is that the “perfect” bar is never static. You envision exactly how you think you “should” be, and the second – the nano-second you reach that place, you reset the bar and continue to be just a little less than adequate.

Here’s some tips for getting PERFECTIONISM out of your way before it sabotages your best intentions for your life, your health and for your business.

1) Separate YOU from your PERFECTIONIST. That is NOT you. Maybe it feels that way, especially if you are ALL OR NOTHING. Spend some time stepping back and observing your behavior. You are not your mind, and that mind of yours, which created the perfect list, just made it up out of the ethers. There isn’t a place where the perfect whatever is engraved in stone. There just isn’t.

2) Give that part of you a new name – something that gets your attention and helps you switch gears. Maybe you want to call your perfectionist self something like “it’s Anal Annie or Perfect Paula!” Remind yourself that you are not your perfectionism. Perfectionism is just a way of thinking and you can change that…IF you recognize it when it comes. For me, it comes when I’m updating my web site, or even putting this article together. I can easily spend 80% of the time I have to put up a web page on details that NO ONE but Anal Annie ever notices, like perfect margins, a font color exactly matching a border, a tilt on an illustration, yaddah, yaddah, yada. When 45 minutes has passed and the font color isn’t just right yet, and my shoulders hurt, and I have to pee, but won’t until it’s perfect, I finally notice who has the keys to my life, and change drivers. (I’m trying to get that lapse in judgment down, but 45 minutes it is what it is at the moment.)

 3) Don’t expect to be perfect in getting rid of perfection. Sometimes these strategies will work and sometimes they won’t. It is a process – a process that is well worth practicing. Actually, thoughts cannot be eliminated from the mind machine.  It’s the same with muscles.  Did you know that you literally cannot make a muscle stretch, you can only relax it and use a different muscle to straighten that flexed arm, for example. Similarly, you cannot eliminate those thoughts of “You blew it” “You’ll never be accepted if anyone sees that off color font”. However, you can say, “Oh, there’s Anal Annie talking again and I’m a good enough ___fill in the blank___________”.   

5) I like remembering that a Persian rug is always made with one flaw, since only God is perfect. Today I can try to be a perfect God (Goddess, actually) or I can be fully human, running my business the best I can, pee-ing when needed, and moving through my life with grace.

To your just right day, with its little flaws, its charming quirks and all the fun you can bring to the day.    Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

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