Start, Stop & Change: perfectionism

Someone once asked what I’ve given up to balance my schedule.

My answer: Perfectionism.

Not an easy feat for someone who used to think perfectionism was a good thing—a quality that meant I’d been raised right.

I didn’t give up perfectionism slowly. Instead, I went cold turkey. Like someone does when their doctor issues the warning:You’ve got to quit doing X. It’s killing you.

For awhile I’d had an inkling that what I once thought was a desirable trait was, instead, a “disease” robbing me of joy and satisfaction.

The obsessive striving and hyper-vigilance of perfectionism reduced me.

  • It made me small and afraid to take risks.
  • It made me fear disapproval and immobilized me with procrastination.
  • It structured my life around rigid shoulds and have tos.
  • It kept me focused only on the destination of results and outcomes rather than being present for the journey.

With perfectionism came its minion: Workaholism.

My life was out of balance: Unrealistic expectations and the desire to be flawless heavily tipping the scales.

It was as if all that was good in me and in my life was on one side of the scale, but the giant thumb of perfectionism was unfairly pushing down on the other.

To gain balance I gave up the irrational belief I need to be perfect. That my environment must be perfect. I decided to stop believing mistakes must be avoided at all costs and failure is catastrophic.

When I gave up the burden of perfectionism, balance in my schedule and in my day magically appeared.

Even more, giving up never good enough for good enough is perfection means there’s balance in my outlook and in my life.

What about you? What have you given up that you’re better off without?