It’s not unusual to hear people describe themselves, or their significant others, or their children, as “perfectionists.” This often comes across as half apology and half overconfidence: “I stayed up late again working. What can I do? I’m a perfectionist.”
Touting your perfectionism or that of your children is analogous to being an alcoholic and bragging about your latest binge-drinking episode. Make no mistake, being a perfectionist does not mean you are perfect, that life always goes your way, or even that you are productive and accomplished. And most importantly, working to make yourself—your work, your partner, your children, your dog, your closet—perfect will not increase your sense of self-confidence or peace of mind. Perfectionism is a quicksand that oftentimes keeps people stuck, unable to pull out and yet unhappy with where they stand.
Chasing perfect means that each new idea or challenge you encounter is immediately accompanied by a mental to-do list and obsessive analysis of how to get it just right. Instead of experiencing and accomplishing you are stuck in indecisiveness about what you should accomplish, what you should produce, what you should look like, act like, live like. All of these machinations and mental gymnastics around getting things perfect are the ego’s way of trying to maintain a sense of self. In reality, chasing perfect is self-defeating.
You can train your ego to employ other modes for managing life. These modes deliver self-esteem, peace of mind, productivity and enduring contentment.
Here are the four ways to stop chasing perfect and transform your life:
1. Bring your real self to the table.
2. Focus on what you can get out of your experiences:
3. Get ‘er done.
4. Grow from your setbacks