Before you read this make sure you read Perfectionism: Part 1. It has all sorts of useful stuff on the difference between Standard and Neurotic Perfectionism. And some other stuff about Perfection Paralysis.
But today I’m going to tell you more about Perfection Paralysis.
When you live with the lovely Neurotic Perfectionism nothing is ever good enough and you feel like if “it’s” not good enough then neither are you.
If you don’t get it right first time then you’re a failure at it.
If you fail at something then you’re a failure.
‘Good enough’ is never good enough.
Jeez this sounds like hard work! And, speaking from experience, it is.
So rather than facing the probability of feeling like a failure, it can sometimes be easier not to try at all.
And if you have a project on the go that could be evaluated when it’s finished and show you up as less than the perfect you’re striving for then why finish it? Why not procrastinate and throw rocks in your path and sabotage every effort to complete it? Then you’re off the hook. You can’t be ‘not good enough’ if it’s never finished.
BUT…..for those living with Neurotic Perfectionism not finishing also makes you not good enough, less than perfect and probably pretty close to being a failure.
See. I told you it was hard work.
There’s a pretty simple solution:
Lower your expectations.
Yes it is that simple.
But a true perfectionist will balk at the idea of this. “Are you crazy?” they will say. “Lower my expectations? Impossible!”
But the crazy thing is…NOT lowering them means NOTHING gets done. Or it’s absolute torture getting anything done. And even then it’s not good enough.
So why not start with lowering expectations? Just give it an itty bitty try.
Matisse (famous artist) did hundreds of ‘crappy first draft’ drawings before he created one masterpiece. Obviously you gotta mess around bit before you ‘get it right’.
And how’s this little fact: Did you know that a large percentage of millionaire entrepreneurs have been bankrupt? I’m sure a Perfectionist would consider bankruptcy a failure. These millionaires obviously didn’t though. They just kept on trying and not beating themselves about not being perfect. And voila…. they made it to the top again. Probably with one ‘crappy first step’ after another.
I’ve had to lower the expectations I have of myself getting my new website done. It doesn’t have to be perfect first time around. Hey…..it doesn’t have to be perfect at all!
I had to lower my expectations to get my PhD completed. No matter how many revisions I made, it was NOT going to be perfect. And if it was evaluated negatively then all it really meant was that my strengths don’t lie in being an academic. But I knew that anyway so what was the point in worrying about it?
So when you lower your expectations about perfection stuff gets done. When you lower your expectations of yourself (i.e. not having to be a master at everything) stuff gets done AND you don’t feel like a failure. Bonus!
So when you feel the pinch of Perfection Paralysis, lower the pressure, lower the expectations and be pleasantly surprised.