Let It Go: Life as a Perfectionist

Let It Go: Life as a Perfectionist

Whether you are a perfectionist or are having to live or work with one, this particular personality type can be exhausting at times. When you expect perfection of yourself and those around you, you often set yourself up for failure and disappointment. However, you will also find yourself being really good at accomplishing tasks, delegating activities, and getting things done.

As a perfectionist, you want things done right so that situations are handled smoothly and without problems. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs in life. It can be incredibly liberating to realize that the pressure you feel comes solely from yourself; there are no expectations you have to meet, and you can let loose and let it go every so often without everything falling apart.

Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing, but it can hold you back from leading a life that is free, fun, and enjoyable. If you find that your perfectionist traits drive people away, keep you from enjoying social situations, or otherwise cramp your style, consider why these perfectionist habits are in your life and whether or not they actually serve you. If they make your life better, keep them. If not, out they go.

It can be difficult to separate your perfectionist traits from the rest of your personality.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are wondering about your perfectionist personality, and whether or not it could be holding you back.

  1. Whose standards are you following?

For the most part, the perfectionist standards that exist in your life have been put in place by you. You want to work hard and do everything right; you need to look good, hold yourself to a standard socially, take care of everyone’s needs, and do it all better than everyone else. This is harmful to you personally, because you end up exhausting yourself and the people around you with your efforts. If you find that your perfectionist standards are in your head, consider breaking down some of these barriers. You might find that they are not realistic in light of the goals you want to accomplish in your life, or the person you want to be.

  1. Does inaction get in your way? You might find yourself so scared that you’ll mess up that you save big projects for the last minute. Procrastination can be a sign that you don’t want to fail, but in the end saving things until the last possible moment can cause you to be unprepared. Notice if you are letting your fears get in the way of your goals.

  2. Do you stress over the small things? For perfectionists, the smallest of tasks or interactions can send you into a tailspin of anxiety, stress, and overthinking. Taking time to consider a situation is one thing but agonizing over it is unhealthy. Avoiding these stressors can also lead to an unhealthy cycle of avoiding risks because of a fear of failure.

Now, here are a few things you can do to counteract the negative side of being a perfectionist.

  1. Reset your expectations. Rather than expecting yourself or other people to be perfect, align your vision with what is realistic for those people and that situation. Perfection isn’t possible, so limit what you expect of people to reasonable levels. This includes yourself, too!
  2. Shift your perspective. By looking at a situation differently, you can reframe it to better understand the realistic behavior required in that situation.
  3. Simplify your standards. Other people may not understand why you need everything to be perfect. When delegating tasks or taking on new responsibilities, make sure the people around you understand your expectations. This requires you to have realistic standards, too.

Remember that being a perfectionist isn’t a bad thing, but too high of expectations can lead to unnecessary disappointment, stress, and anxiety. Make sure your perfectionist tendencies are working for you, not against you.