How has perfectionism been a great tool in your life? Where has it gotten in the way?
I admit that I am a recovering perfectionist. It is a pattern I have long used to make my way in the world and it has served me well…for the most part. Then there are the times that it does not. My work in the film business required the best attributes of a perfectionist…an incredible attention to detail, a willingness to redo tasks repeatedly until they are exactly what the powers that be wanted without taking it personally, an nearly bottomless pit of energy to do what it takes to get the job done, even when your day is closing in on hours that aren’t even legal.
As an athlete, perfectionism fueled the drive to repeat new skills over and over until they clicked, to study myself and more advanced athletes so I could take a skill to the next level.
All this takes an incredible amount of energy and I’ve been well rewarded for those efforts. But what are the costs? How does perfectionism get in the way? Sometimes, it makes me my own worst critic. The times I am not easy on myself can take the fun out things pretty fast. I’ve learned that when I drive myself in parts of my life that are supposed to be things I do to relax, I need to remind myself to give the perfectionist some down time. Because perfectionism does not produce high performance outcomes.
Clearly, the gifts of the perfectionist are handy tools and I won’t be giving them up but I’ve renegotiated my relationship with her to bring more balance and more fun these days.
What is your relationship with your perfectionist like? How about your inner critic or judge? Consider how these different aspects of you support you in different areas and where they get in the way. Stay tuned for tools to preserve the gifts of these aspects while renegotiating the aspects that no longer serve you.