I spent a big part of my life as a perfectionist; needing everything to be just-so, double checking, re-doing, tinkering and making sure that everything was just right. It was exhausting, anxiety inducing and time consuming. I didn't know I could operate any other way until my therapist challenged me to see and do things differently. It all started with one simple challenge. She asked me to try sending and replying to emails without double checking and over analyzing. This sounds simple and even silly, but it helped me to build self-trust and it was a gateway to some big lessons that have allowed me to let go of perfectionism. Here are three things I learned when I stopped trying to be perfect.
Time and Productivity: Time is our most important resource, time is fleeting and once we spend it, we never get it back. Being a perfectionist is a huge time-suck and a drain on productivity. Once we can let go of perfectionism and start to trust ourselves, we can increase the speed with which we finish tasks and gain time back that can be spent in more fulfilling ways.
Nobody is judging you: The only person who notices how perfect or imperfect you are is you. Everyone else is too busy focusing on their own stuff to worry about whether you baked or bought the muffins that you brought to the school bake sale (speaking from experience!), whether you have a pile of dirty dishes in your sink or whether you're wearing a perfect outfit. When we let go of worrying about what other people think we open a door to compassion for ourselves and for others to do the same.
Good enough is good enough: I used to think that if I wasn't going to do something right it wasn't worth doing at all. This was an all or nothing mindset. Then I learned to broaden my perception of what it means to do something right. There are many different ways to complete a task, not just one right way. There are always creative solutions and options available to us. If I don't have time to complete a workout, I know I'll still feel a lot better if I move a little. If I have an error in an email and someone notices it's not a big deal I'm still getting my message across. Sometimes, something IS better than nothing and good enough is good enough.
I'm curious to know if you consider yourself to be a perfectionist. Let me know in the comments. What's one thing that you could let go of to create some more space in your life?