Letting Go of Perfect: Letting Go of Perfectionism for Good

Part 3 of my “Letting Go of Perfect” series.

Well, we are not even into Spring and I would bet that most of us have either thrown our New Year’s resolutions in the trash, given up on them, or didn’t even bother to make any. Part of the reason we do that is that they are too big, too hard, and set the bar too high.

In many ways our resolutions are a lot like the things we say to ourselves about being perfect. We may try so hard to be perfect, to do things perfectly, to aspire to perfection, that we often become anxious and do not get things done at all. I can admit right now, that this is what happens to me before I sit down to write my blogs. I worry will it be interesting enough, will I write it well, will anyone read it? As a result, I often procrastinate and end up not writing at all.

My New Year’s resolution was to get things done in a more timely manner and not worry so much about what others will think. After all, getting it done is always better than not doing it at all.

So how can you let go of perfectionism and avoid setting goals that are unreachable? First, think about the goal you are setting. Are you a mom with a full-time job and 2 kids saying: “ I am going to spend 20 hours a week just playing with my children”. Is that reasonable with work, other responsibilities? Are you setting yourself up to fail? Perhaps you would be better off saying: “ I will try to spend more time with my children, even if it is only one hour more”.

Another example is the businessman who is trying to lose weight. He starts out saying: “I am going to lose 50 pounds.” Well, that is a big number and can take a significant amount of time. Perhaps it would be better to say:“ I am going to try to lose 5 pounds a month”.
So here are some tips to encourage you to let go of perfection…and be kinder to yourself:

–Set realistic goals, with the understanding that once you reach them, you can set new ones.
–Accept the fact that you are fallible… you may not reach your goal but you can give yourself points for trying hard and putting in the effort.
–If you haven’t reached your goal, rewrite it in a way that may work for you. Be rational about your assessment: was the goal too hard, or was it not meaningful enough for you to try?
– Perfectionism is often caused by anxiety. Ask yourself what you are worrying about and what you can do to reduce that worry.
–Let go of guilt. Guilt is an emotion that packs a lot of punch. Whether it is about your spouse, your parents, your children or what you have not achieved, guilt never motivated anyone to greatness.
–Do not let others set personal goals for you. They need to be meaningful to you or you will not care about reaching them.
– Perfectionism is the opposite of progress as it often leads to paralysis and a lack of action.
–Be tolerant not only of yourself, but of your family and those you care about. Don’t expect perfect from them.
–There is no such thing as constructive criticism. It is still criticism and it still hurts. Do not do it to others. Engage in an honest assessment of yourself however…but try to remember the positives.
–Remember that struggle is part of achievement and change. Don’t downplay it; share it, appreciate it and grow from it.
–Value the other “P’ word …. PERSISTENCE. Have a growth mindset and tell yourself that you will get better at things with time and effort.
–Stop looking at all of the “perfect” things on Facebook and other sites. Remember that your friends and colleagues are not posting about their worst days or problems. They are not perfect, no matter what it may seem like to you.

Please join me in trying to make 2016 an “Imperfect” year. It can be a wonderful year, a fun one, a loving one, a caring one, a successful one and can lead you to emotional growth. But it need not be PERFECT!

All material contained on this blog is for information purposes only. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional psychological advice. Always consult a qualified professional prior to utilizing any of the information provided in this post.