Perfectionist? Try Being Good Enough
Posted 11/8/2016 by UHBlog
Wait – it’s a trap! Feeling like you have too much to do in too little time is a sign that you’ve fallen into the trap of perfectionism.
“The trap of perfectionism is that we’re striving to do our best but can slip into constant, chronic anxiety about failing or letting something slip,” says Suzette Williamson, MA, LPCC.
Some of us are more likely than others to fall into the trap. Perfectionists may have been raised in a household that emphasized duty and conscientiousness. Others are in professions that reward precision.
“Some fields, like engineering and medicine, may have higher consequences if you aren’t perfect,” Williamson says. “Even in sports, it’s all about perfecting your game and getting it just right. When the risks are high in making a mistake, perfectionism may kick in.”
When you extend that standard into all aspects of your life, it's not healthy. According to Williamson, the treadmill of being better and faster will only lead to discouragement when you aren’t.
“Flawlessness doesn’t happen that often,” she says."It’s fleeting. Eventually, there will be error.”
Perfectionism can lead to unhealthy outcomes, Williamson says, including:
- Being overly self-critical
- Worrying about what others think and say
- Missing out on the moment
- Experiencing excessive anxiety
- Feeling isolated and depressed
- Pressuring others to meet your standards
“There’s a diminishing return on striving for perfection,” she says. “You’re spending a lot of time on something that won’t give you a return on that investment.”
Instead of perfection, take a “good enough” approach for a better way to spend your time and achieve more positive outcomes. This approach involves:
- Focusing on the positive. Practice being compassionate with yourself.
“‘Good enough’ fosters self-acceptance, not laziness,” says Williamson. “In that space, you develop more ease and confidence in what you’re doing based on a belief that you are good enough.”
- Setting a deadline. “A perfectionist may end up procrastinating,” she says. “Determine a reasonable finish line to your day or project and stick to it.”
- Taking risks. Unlike perfection, good enough offers flexibility to try something in a different way.
“Do something ‘good enough’ and see what you learn from it,” Williamson says. “You actually develop confidence in yourself because you are allowing yourself to learn from experience.”
- Practicing moderation. No two days are the same. Slow down and evaluate your energy levels.
“We have to say that given what resources and time I have today, this is good enough,” Williamson says.
- Enjoying the journey. “When you get into the tyranny of planning everything to be perfect, you slip out of enjoying the moment,” she says. “We have to celebrate what is going well.”
Be proud of what you’re doing well and, at some point, know when to call it a day.
“‘Good enough’ opens you up to adapting and responding to all the changes we face in our lives today,” Williamson says.
Suzette Williamson, MA, LPCC is a resilience specialist and life coach at Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Williamson or any other health care provider online.