Perfectionism is NOT the pursuit of excellence!
That’s a crippling illusion. In reality excellence is choked and stifled by perfectionism. As artist and writer Julia Cameron has written: “Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”
Perfectionism is Oppressive and Destructive
Your creativity wilts under the constant and withering gaze of “not good enough.” Then there’s the even more insidious voice of perfectionism that, while acknowledging your effort says something along the lines of, “You can do better.”
Whatever shape it takes, as author Annie Lamott has said:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”
Our time, energy, creativity and self-esteem are much too precious to waste on perfectionism. Do you really want to be constantly telling yourself that what you do doesn’t measure up?
Perfectionism – The Good News!
Here it is: Perfectionist messages are a choice, and you can absolutely step in and stop them.
Instead of letting perfectionism hold you hostage you can learn to use these 3 powerful retorts to the debilitating, perfectionistic messages that you currently give yourself.
And as you get more adept at countering these messages, they lose their power. Eventually you will hear them less and less from yourself.
Imagine the energy and creativity that you will be able to access!
Perfectionism: 3 Negative Messages and 3 Positive Retorts
Perfectionist Message #1: ‘I need to wait for just the right time to get started.’
This stops you before you start. And isn’t it interesting to consider … What exactly is the ‘right time’? Brainstorm the possibilities. What they all share is that you are giving yourself the message that something additional is needed before you can begin. This makes what you do dependent on something you have no control over … AND it makes you feel a lot less powerful.
Powerful Retort: ‘The right time is right now.’
‘Now’ is what you have to work with. So whatever ‘now’ you decide on, schedule it on your calendar or to-do list and start in. Like jumping into in a cool lake, once you take that plunge, you can enjoy the swim.
Perfectionist Message #2: ‘It is not perfect yet.’
If this is something you often say, ask yourself what you consider perfect and whether it is really attainable. Another question to consider is … Whose eyes are you seeing your project (and yourself) through?
Powerful Retort: ‘Done is better than perfect’ or ‘It is good enough.’
Letting go is often a challenge, but remember that with many things, there is a process involved. The journey has many steps … and the pleasure of accomplishment increases your self-confidence and satisfaction in your work!
Perfectionist Message #3: ‘I know I can make it better.’
This might be true, but it’s a place where endless time can be wasted tweaking something.
Powerful Retort: ‘I will ask for feedback.’
This is empowering because others bring fresh eyes, so they can quickly see mistakes or oversights. Asking for a different perspective frees up your time so you can move on to your next task. In addition, by asking, you are welcoming others’ viewpoints. The more you welcome input, the less you fear others’ responses. This is far and away one of the most powerful ways to fight perfectionism.
So, the nagging, controlling voice that is perfectionism isn’t about excellence. It is a way that each of us bullies ourselves into frozen, fear-filled paralysis.
You don’t have to subject yourself to that … ever again. Instead, counter those doubts and debilitating messages, celebrate your power to be productive, and enjoy your new success at finding time!
So, what is your next step to reduce perfectionism and increase your productivity to its fullest?© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.