How to overcome perfectionism

How to overcome your perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

Control freak, procrastinator, idealist. These are some words that come to mind when I think of the traits or characteristics of a perfectionist. A good definition for perfectionism is quite an impossible task. Why? Because “the perfectionist” does not exist. There are many forms of perfectionism.

That’s why I would like to share my definition of what I mean by perfectionism. Perfectionism is the pursuit of a perfect result or the desire for a perfect solution.

For a perfectionist who wants to overcome perfectionism, you may prefer to call it striving for perfectionism and not achieving it. This is because perfection is almost never achieved. At least not in the eyes of a perfectionist.

A perfectionist often strives for something that is not realistic, that simply cannot be achieved and often will not be achieved. If it seems to be the case that goals can be achieved, the perfectionist will keep raising the bar just a little bit higher. There is no limit. And with that, the perfectionist immediately has something to strive for. For example, the perfectionist always sets the bar just a little bit higher so than you can reach the goal on your toes.

What do perfectionists fail to do to overcome their perfectionism?

One is that it is difficult for a perfectionist to relax. They are very result orientated and focused on the end goal. Perfectionists are often guided by “I still have to do this”. This sentence often goes on in their minds all day long. It’s not about what they want but more about what needs to be done. They are often busy to achieve their goal in a forced way. When a perfectionist doesn’t reach his or her goal, which usually does happen, because it was often an unrealistic high goal, the result is that it can often leave perfectionists feeling even more frustrated and angry.

Instead of adjusting their plan towards a more attainable and fun goal, the perfectionist is more driven to do better next time. And as long as they keep the bar raised high, you can wait for it: disappointment is guaranteed! 

Perfectionism is closely related to the fear of failure. Someone who is a perfectionist is often afraid of failure. They are often people of extremes. Something is either right or wrong, there is  mostly nothing in-between.

There are two types and extremes of how perfectionism can be expressed. The first type of perfectionists is that they are always working hard because of their perfectionism, they often feel that life is a struggle for them and the word ‘’easy’’ does not exist in their minds. Something is never finished, they can go on endlessly and pay attention to all the possible details you can think of. They don’t put 100% effort into something, no they put 400% of all of their effort in.

The second type of perfectionist is quite the opposite. Their perfectionism expresses itself by postponing, doubting, or by not taking action. They are also, called the doubting or frozen perfectionists. The bar has been raised so high for this perfectionist that, in his or her mind they feel that this bar can never be reached. Or at least not yet, not under their current circumstances. This perfectionist therefore postpones and lingers in his or her preparations to undertake any action at all. This is because they already think that it is an impossible mission to achieve. So getting started seems pointless. They are the perfectionists who don’t know what to choose because they fear they might make the wrong decision. Only the thought itself stresses them out. No, they would rather wait until it becomes clearer what the “perfect decision” is.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work, because you are hardly ever have guaranteed guarantees. Having control over the outcome does not often happen in advance, you usually find out by experiencing, doing and learning in daily life. This way you can make a conclusion and think, yep, this is really something for me or no this was not a good choice, I prefer to do it differently next time. So, you find out by doing. Knowing this can be really helpful, as long as you keep making choices and keep moving forward. By not making any choice, means standing still and this will get you nowhere. If you are more of a fear of failure perfectionist, you may notice that you have the fear of failure. In the case of fear of failure, the perfectionist will do everything he or she can to hide this. This can manifest or come across to others as indifference. For example: Are you looking for a new job? No, I’m totally fine where I am now! Taking responsibility is not his or her strongest skill.This is because he or she can feel lesser than others. The fear of failure perfectionist keeps an keeps an eye on his or her environment and sees exactly where they fall short compared to others. They think that other people will always do something a little bit better, faster or more professionally than themselves. Your own performance can never match the performance of others. So, what is the use of trying it? Failure is guaranteed, so never mind! I would rather save myself from this misery and possible rejection, so that I can just keep doing my own thing my way. Nice and safe. Whilst the hard-working perfectionist can move mountains and it seems that they have so much energy, the doubting or frozen perfectionist seems to have little energy. This often comes with a hesitant feeling that gives them little satisfaction and does not improve their self-confidence and self-image. It’s a vicious circle that perfectionists enter because they keep procrastinating and stop moving forward. However, deep down inside, these fear of failure perfectionists have the need to overcome their perfectionism. They have dreams, wishes and goals they would like to achieve. Only, the perfectionists that do not take action, unfortunately achieve little. Do you recognise yourself in this post and are you ready to overcome your your perfectionism? Click here to download your 3 free tips to reduce your fear of failure.