The Price of Perfectionism

Do you pride yourself on your high standards for everything? If so, you’re not alone. Most high-achievers strive for perfection.

But what if inflexible standards are slowing you down and holding you back?

(Not sure if you’re a perfectionist? Try taking this test.)

Obsessive perfectionism can get in the way of a happy and productive life. I know that my own obsessively high standards took their toll for many years. Relentless striving, low satisfaction, sleepless nights obsessing over perceived gaffes – and a long list of unfinished projects and initiatives that I was “still massaging”.

Perfectionism is a big factor in procrastination, low productivity, poor self-esteem and even depression. It keeps you stuck in your comfort zone – afraid of trying new things, for fear of looking bad or making mistakes.

The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to recognize when high standards are necessary – and when they’re actually getting in the way of innovation, efficiency and fulfillment. Getting to a place of “good enough” on most tasks and projects allows you to get more done without compromising quality.

In fact, taking a more open-minded approach can pave the way for greater creativity, innovation and fun.

Freedom from perfection requires flexibility and a large dose of self-compassion. This is a struggle for many of us. It starts with embracing the belief that you are good enough, even with the occasional misstep. And that everything, including yourself, is a work in progress.

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?”

Take a deep breath. Open your heart to self-compassion. Think flexibly about your project or task and let your inner critic relax. Try a “good enough” approach for your day-to-day tasks and reserve the sky-high standards for rare and special circumstances.

Not only will you get more done, you’ll also feel better about what you do accomplish.