Down With Perfectionism

I have recently realized that I am a perfectionist. This came as a surprise because I have always pictured perfectionists as people who don’t let a task or objective go until it’s done perfectly. I, however, feel like I’ve never actually done anything perfectly in my life. I’m beginning to realize that the fact I have given thought to this and feel like I have never quite met my own expectations means I probably am a perfectionist.
But, on the heels of this revelation came the one in which I realized how much less stressful my life is simply by recognizing these perfectionistic tendency, looking them straight in the eye and in a get-thee-hence fashion proclaiming, “Down with perfectionism!”
Now, I am in no way a psychologist and have no knowledge whatsoever about the psychology behind perfectionism except my own experiences. It seems to me that in some cases it may not be something you can suddenly choose not to be or would even want to choose not to be.
My husband, for example, is also a perfectionist when it comes to certain things. What he sets out to do, he does. It may take longer than planned but he meets his high expectations for himself almost every time. And by almost we’re talking the number of times he didn’t falls somewhere between 1 and 3…in his whole life.
He doesn’t expect others to meet his expectations, just himself and it’s only in certain areas of his life. I’m not sure his is the type of perfectionism that can or even should be ended. Is it stressful for him at times? Yes. Should that be an indicator to change? Not necessarily.
I don’t think it’s ingrained that deeply into my personality, but rather a learned mindset that is causing unnecessary worry.
When I set a goal I expect to meet that goal with 100% accuracy in my first attempt…as in the first day. Not having been conscious of this expectation before, I have always felt like I was not good at following through with what I started and that I was a person who could rarely do what I set out to.
Well who the heck meets their goals with 100% accuracy the first time? Isn’t that the point of a goal? Some place you want to reach that is quite a distance from where you’re currently at? Doesn’t that imply a journey? A process? Time?
It was actually very liberating for me to recognize this unreasonable approach to goals that I have. Suddenly I’m not a failure.
Before, when I didn’t reach my goal the first time I would stop trying. Now, I often think of the saying “never quit quitting”. This applies to those trying to overcome addictions but I think it very much applies to the process of reaching your goals. Never quit fighting to overcome the desire to give up.
This desire to be perfect in any task I start also stops me from even trying in the first place. I’ve actually thought about writing on this topic at least ten times now and never did because I felt I had so much to say and didn’t know how to get it all out in the way I wanted to. And now I’ve done it. Down with you, perfectionism.


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