I'll start with an honest question requiring an equally-honest answer: Are you a "perfectionist"? Well, if you are one, relax: I got your back and am about to give you some love.
Here are 7 awesome strategies that, hopefully, you can begin applying today to successfully manage your perfectionism. You're welcome.
Strategy #1: Be realistic with goal-setting.
Come up with several lifetime goals and then break these down into yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. This takes the pressure off, as you learn the habit of completing smaller, bite-size, goals.
Tip: Perfectionists often ignore their wants and needs to live up to the expectations of others. Focus on your own dreams and goals!
Strategy #2: Listen to your inner voice.
If you're feeling anxious, scared or stressed about a task, ask yourself whether you've set the bar too high. Your emotions may be telling you that you're trying to hit an unrealistic goal, which may lead to self-sabotage: failing to achieve the goal, and believing that you're not good enough.
Strategy #3: Don't be afraid of making mistakes.
Look at mistakes as a part of life which can provide awesome learning experiences. But first, you have to have the courage to examine them. Learn from each mistake that you make. You'll grow as a result.
Strategy #4: Reword personal rules that are too rigid.
Perfectionists often live by a rigid set of rules. Identify one rule you live by that's too strict, unfair, or unhelpful. Then reword it to be more helpful, flexible, and forgiving.
Example: imagine that you never suggest creative ideas or give input during meetings at work because you fear they might make you look bad, so instead you always keep quiet. Perhaps your personal rule is to never offer an idea until you've had plenty of time to perfect it.
Readjust or re-frame this rule by saying, "Ideas don't have to be perfect during staff meetings. Our team's purpose is to receive openly anyone's idea, talk them through as a team, and determine whether they're sound. My team will appreciate my input and respect me regardless of the outcome." Then put your new rule into practice!
Strategy #5: Focus on the positive.
Perfectionists will often focus on one small part of something and ignore the rest. For instance, you might obsess about eating a piece of cake for lunch while you're on a diet, while ignoring the fact that you've stuck to your diet for a whole month. Challenge this by looking at what you've done right, and not focusing solely on the negative!
Strategy #6: Stop with the black and white thinking.
Whenever you say to yourself "I must," "I should," or "I shouldn't" do something," pay attention to how your demands makes you feel: perfectionists often use these words when they're setting up personal rules. Some examples are "I must never make mistakes" or "I should have done that work instead of delegating it."
Be careful using black and white thinking, or verbalizing these thoughts; it will often lead to creating unrealistic expectations.
Strategy #7: Relax and be more spontaneous
If you're a perfectionist, you probably find it hard to relax and be spontaneous, right? Doing both are really necessary for healthy living. So if you're at work, take regular breaks, stretch, do breathing exercises, go for a walk outside, take a 15 minute nap and just enjoy yourself.
Add spontaneity to your life by going on a date with your spouse to a new ethnic restaurant, stopping afterwards to watch the sunset. And next week, think about picking up a new hobby. Surprise yourself!
It's really important for you to know that perfectionism in its most unhealthy state can rob you of your productivity and creativity. It can even lead to various health problems.
Now that you have this list and are aware of your tendencies to be perfect, identify why you believe this way, and come up with an action that you can take to challenge this behavior.
Lastly, cut yourself some slack, you're not broken, you're human! Just focus on one behavior at a time so this process doesn't overwhelm you. And remember to set realistic goals, listen to your emotions, and don't fear mistakes!