Being a perfectionist isn’t always a good thing, as our contributor, Joana Ferreira, explains today in her open letter to fellow perfectionists. Read on for some insight to help you realize that perfect is not always possible—and that’s OK!
You are not alone. I also rewrite my Instagram captions to make sure they’re perfect. I also quit a 30-day yoga challenge because I missed a day and now it’s over. I also forget my overall great job if I made a mistake during the presentation. I also wait until the perfect moment to start something but that perfect moment never comes so I never start.
If you’re anything like me, you think that perfectionism is about striving to be your best. You think it’s a positive trait to have and something that you can pinpoint as one of your strengths at job interviews, right? Been there, done that.
But, more often than not, it really isn’t such a positive trait after all.
Perfectionism is to believe that everything needs to be perfect so that you can be accepted and avoid blame, judgment and shame. At first, you might resist believing this is true. I certainly did. I didn’t want to believe that being a perfectionist didn’t necessarily have to do with my need to be my best but with my need for acceptance from myself or from others.
The truth is that fear is the cause of perfectionism. Fear of not succeeding. Fear of judgment. Fear of not being accepted. And that often leads to procrastination. Did you ever have a really important paper at school or a big project at work and instead of doing it, you procrastinated on it until the last minute? Me too. Plenty of times. That happened because we were being perfectionists and letting the fear of not being good enough stop us from actually doing it.
Here are three things to keep in mind when trying to be less of a perfectionist:
- It’s better done than perfect. Because if you wait for the perfect moment, will it ever come? You’ll keep finding excuses not to start and sometimes it’s better to just start. So, stop waiting and start that project you’ve been thinking about. You’ll figure it out along the way.
- Failure is part of being a human. Failure is not a reflection of your worth. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes. Deep down, you know this, right? So keep repeating it and allow yourself to fail.
- Self-compassion is the key. To let go of perfectionism, you need to practice self-compassion by accepting your imperfections, exploring your fears and being kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
Easier said than done, right? Deep down you know that perfection doesn’t exist or that failure is inevitable. Still, it’s a real struggle to let go of your perfectionist habits when you have been sticking to them for so many years. Remember that it’s a work in progress. It’s about being aware of when you’re trying to sabotage yourself. It’s about gradually shifting your mindset to strive for progress instead of perfection. Because just like Marie Forleo says, “you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.”