Overcome perfectionism

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Perfectionism can be paralyzing. This state of mind can not only keep you from achieving your goals, but it may even prevent you from starting something because of a fear of failure, or of progressing at a pace that doesn't seem fast enough.


There's a lot to be said for simply doing something well rather than striving for flawless. -Susan Campbell Cross

I’ve seen a couple of interesting articles lately on what it takes to be happy and how perfectionism may be hindering that. One quote in Shape Magazine really resonated with me. Susan Campbell Cross, Shape's lifestyle editor, is admittedly “a recovering perfectionist” and said “…there’s a lot to be said for simply doing something well rather than striving for flawless”.

For a lot of people, the tabula rasa can feel daunting because it's too open ended; a blank notebook could feel like your worst enemy when you go to write an essay for school or a report for work.

Some thoughts may run through your head, like: Where to start? How am I going to succeed?

Perfectionism doesn’t only apply to grown up things either… it can also prohibit a person from fully enjoying a newfound hobby such as learning a musical instrument, learning to draw, or becoming a runner. It could even interfere with your success of reaching a weight loss goal. Or, in Susan’s case, it can cause anxiety around throwing a party because of feeling like you have to live up to the Martha Stewart standards of hosting.

By only envisioning the final product or end goal, you may be hampering your chance of success, and you may also be messing with your happiness.

Trial and error and taking time to “play” is a crucial part of the creative process, and if you don’t allow yourself the room to do so, you may gloss over a creative solution. Or even worse, you may miss out on learning something about yourself.

If letting go of perfectionism feels uncomfortable, here are some things to remember:

  • Everyone had to start somewhere.
  • You may be your worst critic.
  • Any effort you make towards your goal is one step closer than you were before.
  • Enjoying the process is key.
  • Nobody's perfet.

And in the end, if you really don’t like the feeling of giving up your perfectionism, remember that a person has to whip out their type-A personalities at the end of a project for those crucial final touches. Just don’t let that mindset delay your progress from the start.

“Simply doing something well” is huge. Remember to take things one step at a time and to enjoy the process. Like Ernest Hemingway wrote: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Have you ever noticed that your perfectionism holds you back? What do you do to overcome that?

Cover photo by bar rocknwool