I am a perfectionist, at least with some things. For instance, labels face forward on the products in my pantry and fridge, and multiple bath towels on single towel bars are hung evenly – just like the abusive antagonist in the psychological movie thriller, Sleeping With The Enemy. (But that’s the only similarity!)
I think it has more to do with being a professional organizer. I love organization. I’m calmer when my life and things are in order. When I write articles and general correspondence, I want them to be perfect because I feel it’s a reflection of who I am. Is that bad? And who’s to say it is or isn’t?
Do you hold yourself to high standards for everything? What if inflexible standards are slowing you down and holding you back? There is such a thing as being an unhealthy perfectionist – trying to reach high standards of excellence vs. the inability to achieve unrealistic expectations of perfection.
More often than not, continual high standards aren’t needed to succeed in life. Think about people like Einstein, Oprah, Walt Disney and Bill Gates. These famously accomplished people have reported that they owe their achievements to their unstoppable nature and willingness to make mistakes.
There’s evidence that constant perfectionism can get in the way of a happy and productive life. It’s connected to procrastination, low productivity and depression.
The trick is to recognize when high standards are necessary and when they actually get in the way of innovation, productivity and fulfillment. Getting to the place of good enough on most tasks and projects allows us to accomplish more without compromising quality. This open-minded approach allows for creativity, innovation and fun.
Freedom from perfection starts with flexibility and self-confidence. The next time you notice that you’re driving yourself too hard, procrastinating on projects or tasks or feeling self-critical about your accomplishments, ask yourself:
“Am I holding myself to standards that aren’t needed in these circumstances?”
“What would good enough look and feel like?”
Breathe. Open your mind. Think flexibly about your project or task and let your standards relax. Try the “good enough” approach for your day-to-day tasks and reserve your high standards for when it truly matters. You’ll not only get more done, you’ll also feel motivated to do more. You’ll feel freer and save time that can be spent doing other things. Like organizing your pantry.
I’m going to give it a try. Hey fellow perfectionists, are you with me?