Being a perfectionist is a pretty good thing in U.S. culture.
It means you work hard, get stuff done, and people want you to be on their team.
But the hardest thing about being a perfectionist is that you don’t see how extreme your actions can be…or how you’re actions affect other people.
Speaking as a recovering perfectionist myself, I didn’t know when to let go, be more cooperative, or adjust my plan.
These are things that I used to do:
- I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying life (because I had to get stuff done!).
- I wasn’t flexible or spontaneous (because it wasn’t part of the plan!).
- I didn’t forgive myself easily, or ever (because I shouldn’t make mistakes!).
- It was hard for me to forgive others (because they shouldn’t make mistakes either!).
I thought that if I wanted to work while everyone else was having fun, that was my choice.
But what about the friends or family who invited me out? Maybe they felt bad when I always said, “No, thanks.”
At work, if I wanted to try one more time while everyone else was ready to call it quits, I would just keep working on my own (and even liked it because I had all the control!).
But how did the group feel about me making decisions without them?
All of these behaviors affected my relationships because it put strain on the people I cared about.
If you expect to have everything under control all the time, you’ll get impatient when other people don’t seem to have it together.
If you can’t forgive yourself when you make mistakes, your frustration will show when others make mistakes.
Now that I know how my perfectionism affected others, I’ve changed a few things.
- I literally talk to myself after I make a mistake and say, “It’s okay. You didn’t know.” or “Don’t worry. You did your best.” I practice forgiving myself so that I can let go more easily when others make mistakes.
- I practice saying yes to invitations from others, even when I don’t think I have time. There will always be more work to do. But when I take breaks and enjoy life, the balance that comes from that is more valuable than getting more stuff done. In fact, when I take breaks, I have more creativity and focus when I return to work.
You can do high quality work while being flexible, making mistakes, and enjoying life.
Here’s to creating more balance!