Perfectionist? 8 Ways To Shift Perfection Towards Productivity


If the the word perfection nags at you, let's dig a little deeper.

Now, if you're a real perfectionist, you're probably shaking your head saying "no", because you feel far from perfect. However,  if you're used to feeling overworked, exhausted and stuck feeling anxious, needing to finally get it "right" you may have some spices of perfection in you

Here are some signs of perfectionism. 

  • Experiencing yourself as ineffective since the need to be perfect keeps you stuck and often frustrated.  
  • Self-criticism, self-doubt, and feelings of "not-enough-ness".
  • Feeling isolated and alienated due to difficulty sharing imperfections with others. 
  • Missed social opportunities due to overworking, lacking work/play balance.
  • Feeling anxious, worried and depressed about yourself or your life.  

Now you may say you want to accomplish things in your life, and that requires effort and persistence, which I totally respect. 

Let's clarify the difference between accomplishments and perfectionism, which are easily confused. 

 Dr. Brene Brown explains this beautifully,

"Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief      that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

Brown explains how perfectionism is a shield we carry to protect us, and essentially is the opposite of movement, change and productivity.

Now, to be clear, you don't have to be King or Queen perfectionist to suffer from "perfection plight". You may experience perfectionism in one area of your life and not in others.  Now, let's take a moment to look at why we struggle with perfectionism. 

Perfectionism is a protection, a defense, a shield.

It comes to protect our human-ness, our raw selves and our flaws that we possess. When we stay stuck in the cycle of overthinking and perfecting we distract from seeing who we truly are. We keep our vulnerabilities deep down and tucked away,  beneath the armor of defense.

Yet, when you undress that heavy weighted armor, you'll often find a worry, a fear , a concern that you're not worthy. You may have the belief that if you tried harder, if you did more, if you accomplished that last thing or if you stretched a bit further you'd be valuable. And that's simply exhausting! The reality is that there is no "destination" where you will finally feel "valued" or "worthy". It's a place you create inside by finding inner ease and a sense of solid identity that is separate from what you do, create, perform or build.

And a little secret, the more you dig into your YOU-ness, and your humanity, you'll actually accomplish more because you'll feel calm, steady and focused, which helps with productivity and a sense of inner strength. Let's help you learn to shift the anxious energy to living a life with more balance and ease. 

You can channel your perfectionistic energy to living  productively. Here's how:

1)Recognize the difference

Between high standards and perfectionism. Setting high standards are totally alright, they keep you reaching a tiny bit higher, but perfectionism keeps you spinning. 

2)Pay attention

To the things you've done well in your life. Celebrate the small successes. 

3)Take a step back 

To notice yourself as a "whole person". Your flaws and your strengths. You're a combination of both. Appreciate all parts of yourself. 

4)Set goals and identify attainable steps. 

Reaching realistic goals helps you gain mastery and improves your self esteem.

5)Chuck the negative magnifying glass.

Zooming in to your imperfections has to stop. 

6)Embrace your weirdness.

Use your individuality to shine. I dont know anyone famous who was typical or fit into the "box". Own your messiness and individuality proudly.

7)Reframe mistakes as valuable lessons.

Some of my biggest mistakes have taught me lessons I've taken and have impacted me for the positive. If nothing else, at least let yourself gain wisdom!

8)Pretty please don't wait for the "right moment".

To get something done, to meet that friend or to take the next step in life. There is never that special moment that glistens perfectly. Get comfortable in the average moments and take one steady step at at time. Life doesn't wait for the perfect moment.

If you notice you anxiety related perfectionism, I encourage you to dig into understanding the role it has in your life. In therapy, we help you understand where your perfectionism began and what else it's hooked into so we can heal those wounds so that you can being showing up to life with full presence minus the nagging pressures. 

Blessings to leaning into your humanity, your "enough-ness" and taking one step at a time at building a meaningful life.