It's time to fess up. Are you a perfectionist? Do you set yourself high standards and then get cranky when you don't live up to them? Do you expect a lot from others and then get disappointed when they don't cut it? Are you procrastinating over something because it's easier to do that than to face the possibility that you won't do it perfectly?
Perfectionism is a curse that many of us live with but there is hope. You can overcome it - or at least temper it a bit so that life is not quite so overwhelming.
Psychologists worry about perfectionists not because of the high standards they maintain for themselves. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact many 'perfectionists' maintain high standards but don't necessarily suffer as a result. If you're one of these then you're probably not a perfectionist. You possess a high need for achievement.
Perfectionism is a worry to psychologists because true perfectionists hold themselves to high standards and then judge themselves negatively when they don't meet those standards. It's the thinking part that causes the problems; how hard you are on yourself. Not the standards.
Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic and Flying Solo has been through that battle. She had, in her own words, a breakdown. She went to therapy. She learnt a lot about herself and how she functions in the world and she's described her own understanding of perfectionism and her framework for overcoming it in her new book, Practical Perfection.
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Practical Perfection because Kelly and I had a chat about the nature of perfectionism when she was writing it. It's a great book and I wholeheartedly recommend it if you're feeling burnt out or overwhelmed or 'like a hamster on a wheel' just trying to keep up with your own expectations.
In fact I recommend it to everyone because Kelly talks about the importance of knowing two vital things about yourself:
- Your passions
- Your priorities
This leads into a discussion about how knowing these things effects your productivity. She's even got a very nifty model for how the three fit together (you can see that here).
If you've been hanging about here in the Potential Psychology community for any length of time you will have heard me bang on about strengths and values and the importance of knowing your strengths and your values for your well being. Well this:
Passions = Strengths
Priorities = Values
Kelly gives you a really lovely description and simple framework for understanding your passions (strengths) and your priorities (values). She talks about how not knowing them contributes to burnout and overwhelm, and she uses her experience and this knowledge of passions and priorities to give you tips on improving your productivity and getting off the hamster wheel.
If you're keen to get hold of Kelly's book you can do that here.
Are you a perfectionist? Or a recovering perfectionist? Do you know your strengths and values? Want to chat about it? Write me a comment below and I'll chat back :-)