“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”
Recently I had several sessions with a client who is very successful at what she is doing, but felt her need for perfection still kept her away from achieving even better results.
I totally agreed with her. Perfectionism does keep us away from even more successful action, and is a major cause of procrastination. I know that sounds weird, but just keep reading. My client was able to acknowledge her “handicap”, and has made major improvements in her attitude -and thereby in her success level. Not all the perfectionist are as honest with themselves, though!
Perfectionism is a devious monster. For the (unaware) sufferer from it, it seems a necessary attitude to have to achieve what it is s/he wants to achieve. For nearly everyone else around the perfectionist, on the other hand, the predominantly negative side effects show up: immensely high expectation of others and oneself; hardly ever satisfied with the booked results -it can always be better!; very sensitive about what others think; usually low self-esteem -there is always someone better than I am; etc.
I was a major perfectionist in my younger years -and probably still have streaks of it, deep down- so I can recognise the traits in others easily. The major one for me was a complete failure to celebrate my achievements; it was never good enough.
In the Dreamtime Personalities, with which I work nearly daily, the Eagle-type person is the most likely type to fall prey to perfectionism; Eagles constantly -it is one of their core needs- strive for perfection, mastery, knowledge, and being the best. In that pursuit, it is really easy to slide from having a passion to having an obsession, without that person even being aware of the change in focus.
Life for the Eagle type is climbing a ladder; for every rung reached, there is another one to go for. The irony for the Eagle, though, is that the ladder has an infinite amount of rungs, so the pursuit for “being the best” is never ending. At some point, this can become so discouraging, that the Eagle person will stop climbing at all: why bother if I can never be the best anyway?
That is pure procrastination in action! Putting things off because of feared negative consequences. Something that the Eagle is most prone to, but can happen to the other 3 types within the Dreamtime Personalities as well.
Perfectionism can lead to all sorts of nasty mental and physical symptoms (mine were major headaches… ), and really, that is not necessary.
There are relatively easy ways to deal with perfectionist streaks, if you are willing to acknowledge that you have them, that is!
Set a landmark:
Firstly: observe where you have perfectionism ruling your life. It may be in any context: health, home, money, career, personal development, family, fitness, appearance, social life, etc. Be brutally honest with yourself, and refrain from judging yourself; just observe. And also observe where it affects others. What unrealistic expectations do you have of them? Where are they worse off because of your attitude?
Secondly: look at what good results you have booked -that means: stay away from criticising yourself- and celebrate them! The more you can start to observe where you are good (enough), the more you will train your brain to find more of those instances: that’s the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) translation of Law of Attraction!
Thirdly: set some realistic goals. Don’t try to be better than the best. Small steps take you a long way. If you want to be a world famous superstar, wouldn’t it make sense you start to practice in your backyard, instead of looking up at the “already there” people, and feeling unworthy yourself!?
Lastly: to deal with procrastination as a result of perfectionism, you want to put limits on time spent on “things”. E.g., if you need to study something, decide you will only do so for 3 hours. No more. That prevents you from fiddling about all day without really getting anything done.
There are plenty more ways to deal with perfectionism and procrastination. NLP can help to break through some destructive beliefs, understanding your personality type will make you more aware of what you do and why, and coaching will assist you in taking action in new directions. That is the first step to the way out!
Marc is a qualified Counsellor, Life/Business Coach, Master NLP Practitioner and AusIDentities Personalities Facilitator on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Marc inspires his clients to create “Knowareness”, a powerful state of presence that allows clients to make the right decisions at the right time, all the time.
Through additional use of Personality Type Profiling techniques, Values Elicitation and Business Positioning tools Marc takes his clients’ lives and businesses to massive new heights.
On the other hand, he also knows how fulfilling and profitable taking that step can be, and has the knack of imparting his knowledge and wisdom in stunningly simple and highly effective ways.
Email Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an introductory 30 minute face-to-face or phone mentoring session!
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