How has perfectionism been a great tool in your life? Where has it gotten in the way?
I admit that I am a recovered perfectionist. It was a pattern I used for a long time to make my way in the world and it has served me well…for the most part. Then there are the times that it did 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 took an incredible amount of energy and I was well rewarded for those efforts. But what were the costs? How did perfectionism get in the way? Certainly, it made me my own worst critic. I was not easy on myself, which can take the fun out things pretty fast. Sometimes I drove myself in parts of my life that are supposed to be things I do to relax, release stress and to experience sheer enjoyment.
These days I can usually catch the perfectionist when she pops up uninvited at inappropriate times and ask her to step aside when she’s not needed.
Clearly, the gifts of the perfectionist are handy tools and I won’t be giving them up but I have renegotiated my relationship with her to bring more balance and more fun.
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. Then set some boundaries with your perfectionist. Allow that aspect of the self to inform you and to provide a good tool for checking in with yourself but then ask it to step aside in those times where it is limiting you from pursuing goals that are in your best interests. It’s okay to keep the perfectionist on the team…just be sure that as the team captain, YOU are calling the shots.