Perfectionist. Surely I am not one of those. I do many things wrong. I mess stuff up continuously, so that means I’m not a perfectionist, right?
Then why do I find it so difficult to get things started. Whether it’s cleaning, a project, a hobby, even visiting a friend or family member, that first step seems to get pushed out. Often I tell myself “there isn’t time,” or “not enough money,” “timing isn’t right” or “it’s not good timing for the other person involved.” Most of the time, it’s perfectionism.
What is perfectionism? Dictionary.com asserts, “Any of various doctrines holding that religious, moral, social or political perfection is attainable.” Not exactly how I would state it but pretty much covers all the areas I struggle with. I could add perfect to all of my excuses above: “there isn’t enough time to do it perfect.” “Not enough money to do it perfect.” …etc., identifying them as an issue of perfectionism.
How does one overcome perfectionism? You change your belief that perfect is possible. That’s obvious from the definition, but how does one go about changing a belief that is supported by culture?
First, think in terms of continuums. Focus on moving toward the end mark. When cleaning your house, instead of thinking everything has to have a home properly labeled and every speck of dust gone, focus on clearing the clutter off the counters, whip the counters down and vacuum. You can quickly get this done and you have moved the continuum bar toward a clean house.
Second, set incremental goals. Break what you need to do down and determine to complete part of it. By having this picture in you mind (I actually recommend writing it down), there is an end point. In the example above the incremental goal was clutter, counters and vacuuming. Set goals moving you toward the desirable end of the continuum forgetting what happened yesterday, how you failed earlier, or didn’t accomplish what you wanted to. Paul encourages us in Philemon 3:13-14 (NIV) “…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”
Then when you accomplish a goal, celebrate! Be a person of celebration. Not in a bragging boastful sense. You do not need to post it on Facebook or brag to your best friend about your accomplishment; but give yourself the chance to feel the inner sense if accomplishment, relish it and thank God for it.
These three steps will move you away from perfectionism and give you a sense of accomplishment in its place. Give it a try!
By Becky Watkins