10 helpful steps to overcome your perfectionism
Aktualisiert: 11. Juli 2020
In today's world we easily feel under pressure on a daily basis. Some of this pressure is being put on us from outside - by our bosses at work, by our partners, by our parents maybe. But another part of pressure is put on us by ourselves: To keep the home clean, to finish this work perfectly, to eat more healthy and so on.
But is it really worth it? I do not want to change you into a lazy person but I want you to understand and to learn and adapt that you are perfect by not being perfect. Life is so much better without perfectionism. But it's quite tough for most of us to overcome the urge to perfection.
Roots of Perfectionism
As for so many things in life, the roots of perfectionism are found in the childhood. We all remember the feeling when returning home from school with a bad mark in the math exam and how sad our mom was, after all these hours she had practised with us. And not to forget our Dad - he got so upset and even shouted at us. We didn't like such situations and our character slowly but steadily formed into a perfectionist to avoid what happened after the bad math mark. How proud mom was when I returned home with good marks and Dad even gave me a coin for it.
Why Perfectionism is so bad for ourselves - and just sometimes good for us
In general, perfectionism will motivate us to work better, faster, more in detail - to be better let's say in general. Who doesn't clean the full house before the guests arrive just to see the home dirtier than before the moment they go home. We want to show the best copy of ourself to the people around us. We want to be admired. We want them saying "Your home is so beautiful, how do you manage to keep it this clean with a full time job and two kids?" Yes, and you smile back, still thinking about how you rushed to clean, prepare the food and make yourself look a best version of yourself after this cleaning-cooking marathon. The problem with perfectionism is that it ruins our self-confidence. How high is the chance to really be perfect, to achieve this goal? Chances are obviously very low and therefore, most of the time you will disappoint yourself with negative thoughts: "I didn't make what I thought to do. I was not able to finish in time. I am..." And so on. We are pulling ourselves down.
How not to be perfect, and still a highly appreciated person
1.) The 20/80-Rule
You may have heard of this rule before. It's one of the most important rules in everyone's life. It means that 80% of the results comes from 20% of your time. Applied to your daily life, it means that you can have a 80% clean home by just investing 20% of your time. By studying 20% you will be able to know 80% of the information being asked for in the exam. The so called "Pareto Principle", named after the Italian Vilfredo Pareto, can be applied to all aspects of life. Giving you an example of time management, imagine yourself receiving a call from friends that they will come to visit you after an hour. Your mood of the day is all of a sudden changed. Your home is looking like it was just hit by a hurricane and you will need at least four hours to clean it up: Dishes, hover, wet cleaning, dust on the furniture, kids toys everywhere and the laundry is dry but still on the laundry rack. Now it's time to use the 80/20 principle to get your flat look great before the friends arrive. Decide which are the main things, the 20% of things, you can finish within the next one hour to make your home look 80% clean. And here we go: the laundry rack will be put in the dressing room near to where you will put the freshly washed items after your friends left. No one will go into the dressing room to see the rack there. You won't have time to mop all floors of all rooms. After hovering the "public areas" - again: no one will see the dirty washroom which is next to your bedroom as you have the guest toilet near the saloon. Mopping is not really necessary now. Take the wet floor cloth and quickly clean the spots you see in the saloon and other main areas of your home. Your friends will surely be happy to see you and won't realize that the washed laundry is still on the rack from two days back instead of ironed in the wardrobe.
You have to learn to find these 20% to focus on.
2.) Stop over-thinking the negative outcomes
Once you have a task, you start thinking of doing it perfectly, because if not: Your boss won't be happy with you...he may eventually fire you. Your husband may shout at you. Your friend will think you do not love her if the birthday gift is not something very special. Forget it! Do it good and they will all still love you. Your boss wants the work to be done. He doesn't want you to sit three days on it to finish it perfectly, he is actually perfectly fine with the work done in a good way. Point. Much of the work simply just has to be done. Make it look nice (e.g. put the document on a nice format, letter head etc. but do not overthink the content to and keep yourself busy for too long time). By the way, many times perfectionism leads to procastination, as, being afraid not to be perfect, tasks are being delayed and delayed.
3.) Do not compare
You are unique. You are not like your neighbour, your colleague, the wife of your husband's friend. You are only you. And that's good. Once you have stopped comparing your life will be much more relaxed. Anyway, what you see outside is just a small part of the person. Did you realize, many people who drive nice cars, have super small homes or old ones, they like to show-off with big cars, but if you have a closer look you can realize this is all they have. Maybe your colleague is having a salad everyday for lunch whilst you have a sandwich and a muffin for dessert. Do you feel bad seeing her eating so healthy, wondering how she survices with a salad only? Well, maybe she is having a heavy dinner or had two chocolate spreads for breakfast already? There is your friend and she is travelling every summer for one month with all her family. Posting all these beautiful pictures on social media. Did you ever realize that during the rest of the year, they are never eating outside the home? That she is not having a branded hand bag? Just a couple of shirts she re-wears at work? It's all about priorities. Do not judge and do not compare. You do not have to be perfect to be loved. And: You cannot compare a finished masterpiece with a beginner. Good work is the result of constant process.
You do not have to be or have a guru to meditate. It's nothing about hocospocus and "Ommmmm" - I am myself still very very new to doing meditation, but I have already realized how much it helped myself. Try to start slowly and do not expect wonders. There are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube or you can use an app on your mobile. I have downloaded first Headspace which I liked but found the free version too limited. Now I am using Insight Timer which I love. Thousands (Millions?) of guided meditations which you can filter by the duration you want to meditate and by topics (happiness, relationship, self love etc.). As said, I am still exploring this exercise, but I can already tell that I became a nice morning routine to choose one of teir guided meditations by the time I have (and I am still doing only the 0-5 minutes ones...) and topic, e.g. happiness. Just follow your breath and if any thoughts are distracting you (they will!) just get back to your breath. Believe me, just try it. It's super relaxing and energizing.
5.) Make failure your friend
Intuitionally, we all know that we only learn from our mistakes. Every succesful person we know has failed so many times to be who she/he is now. All overnight success is a result of many nights of work. We have to get used to fail. There is no other way. The problem is that we fell so much less worth when we fail, when we are not perfect. No one will judge you on your fail, they will judge you on how you handle failure. So make it your friend and grow together!
Eventually, there is one thing you should think of: Better be happy than perfect. Do it for your own happiness. No matter if you/it was perfect.
By the way, I am planning to share with you a great concept of cleaning the home on a regular schedule. Nope, no perfectionism, I think I am going to share my input on this topic in a couple of weeks with you on my blog. So, stay posted - subscribe to my weekly "Happiness Booster"-Newsletter not to miss this post.
Let me know, how do you feel put under pressure usually - did you start to overcome perfectionism or do you still have to work on yourself.