Is done really better than perfect? Some of my clients would debate that question. It seems as though many people who struggle with disorganization are extreme perfectionists.
Perfectionism can either lead you to making no decisions whatsoever for fear that what you decide to do won’t be perfect. Or it can lead you to constantly make changes to your organizing systems and solutions and even to the way you decorate your home in search of the perfect way to do something or the perfect décor.
As Juliet Landau-Pope pointed out in a session I attended at a Professional Organizers in Canada conference, if you pay attention to how many times you see the word “perfect” in advertising it’s no wonder we think we have to do everything perfectly. For example, “Top Tips for the Perfect Dinner Party”, or “How to Carve the Perfect Halloween Pumpkin”. If I search online for “How to Decorate the Perfect Christmas Tree”, I literally get hundreds of images. Oh brother, what’s a girl to do? What defines the “perfect” Christmas tree? How do I know when I have it done “perfectly”?
The question Juliet suggested we ask ourselves instead is, “Can you be a high achiever without being a perfectionist?” I would say the answer to that question is a resounding, “YES!”. Ask yourself if you can adjust your way of thinking in order to be satisfied with achieving a high standard rather than perfection. What would happen if you were to start that project you’ve been putting off with the goal of finishing it within a certain amount of time no matter if it’s perfect. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that will happen if this doesn’t turn our perfectly?”. As one of my clients would say, “unless you’re building a bridge or an airplane, probably nothing catastrophic”.
What can you do to recognize perfectionism when it shows up? Here are some of the signs of perfectionism that you might want to be aware of.
. You are never satisfied with completed work.
. You have unrealistic standards for yourself and others.
. You are highly self critical.
. Your self-worth is linked to success.
. You have high levels of worry and anxiety.
. Things are either perfect or awful.
The trick is to recognize that voice in your head when it shows up and work to let it go. Some other tendencies you may notice are using humour to make light of things when you deem they are not perfect enough, having minimalist aspirations (hmmm…that sounds familiar), employing maximal avoidance strategies (yup, procrastinating), having great expectations. An example of the last one is that you think you can purchase, set up, and decorate the “perfect” Christmas tree all in a two-hour time slot.
According to Juliet there are three forms of perfectionism:
- socially prescribed
Give yourself permission to lower the bar, especially as the holiday season approaches . And, please be kind to yourself. Perfectionism is absolutely impossible to achieve…I guarantee it.