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My Dangerous Habit

I have a confession to make…I’m a recovering perfectionist.

For so many years I wore my perfectionism with pride. I saw it as one of my greatest assets. Give me any job and I will do it to an amazing level with impeccable attention to detail.

I probably even boasted about it on application forms, because what employer wouldn’t want a perfectionist - right?

But boy did it come back to bite me!

And this is why I’m encouraging others to give up their perfectionistic ways.

The problems with perfectionism is that it’s unobtainable!

We’re human, flaws are inevitable and perfect doesn’t allow any margin for error. You need to be world class on your first attempt – anything else is viewed as failure.

Perfectionism can slow you down, make decisions impossible, it makes you irritable, you put yourself under so much pressure (when no one else is really that bothered – honestly they aren’t) and often the results never quite match up to what was in your head.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we throw our standards out of the window, doing sloppy work with no effort or care. I think we need to strike a happy medium.

What I now aim for, and what I encourage everyone else to do is their best.

Just do your best!

We can all achieve this.

It might not be perfect but it is the best you can do in this precise moment in time. The other good news is your best will get better over time.

Say for example, I had to paint a picture of my garden, my first painting, although it would be my best effort would be pretty ropey. But if I kept practising it would get better over time. Each time I would have tried my best and could be proud of my results. If I had aimed for perfect I would have been disappointed and probably given up.

Striving for perfect generally leads to disappointment, you focus on the flaws and beat yourself up.

Trying your best allows more room to be proud of your achievements. You may still look at the flaws but you are more likely to look at these positively as areas for growth.

And done is better than perfect.

Rather than spending ages looking for the ‘perfect’ item you can just go with the best one you can find. The perfect one might only exist in your mind so don’t waste unnecessary time searching for it if you have found something else that will work equally well.

Perfectionism makes you agonise over decisions and minute details, at its worse it can paralyse you with fear.

For me, my perfectionism stemmed from my belief that acceptance, friendship and love was conditional. I decided that this must mean I needed to be perfect to be accepted.

Acknowledging this flawed belief helped me to understand my perfectionism, see it for what it really was and let go of it.

I always knew I placed the greatest pressure on myself. The pressure didn’t come from others but from me and it left me feeling tired, stressed and ultimately disappointed. I’d apologise to my kids about Christmas and birthday parties as they didn’t match my preconceived idea when actually they’d had a great time and weren’t disappointed – especially as they couldn’t see what was in my head!

I’m still not over my perfectionism – it might even be a life-long work in progress but I already feel calmer, happier, more productive and motivated.

Whenever I feel the perfection habit coming back I just remind myself… …All I can do is my best. And you should too.

Go out there and be your best version!

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