You’ve probably heard the old joke about what to say in response to the interview question,
“What would you say is your biggest weakness?”
“I would say that my biggest weakness that I’m a perfectionist.”
People may find this mildly amusing because they are somewhat aware of how you can be a perfectionist to a fault. They are also aware of how highly prized perfectionism can be in our society: tantamount to a ‘good work ethic’ and the mark of somebody who is dedicated and diligent. But yes, perfectionism comes with a high price tag, which is often at the cost of the perfectionist themselves rather than their employer (for example). Sometimes though, perfectionism also has a negative impact on those around.
Perfectionism can make you procrastinate, because you’re afraid that your project won’t be good enough so you don’t get around to starting something until the last minute, by which time if your project doesn’t meet the high standards that you set yourself you have the excuse, “Well, I didn’t start it until the last minute.”
Perfectionism can make you afraid of finishing something, again for fear of it not been good enough, and so you may have tons of unfinished projects lying around, embarked on courses you are biding your time finishing, started a new hobby class only to drop out because you’re not an instant expert. The list goes on.
Perfectionism can be agonising because when you do finish something, it has taken so long to complete because you have changed things back and forth, not sure which way is right, or you have started the exact same task over and over again because half way through (or sooner) you have thrown your hands up, exacerbated, because it’s just not turning out as the ideal you hold in your mind. (I just did this now.)
It doesn’t matter why it started, what matters is that you can take steps towards releasing this. One that you can take next is to just finish something that your inner perfectionist would have you hold on to for longer and see what happens. Like this blog post. I’m putting this out there as is. Tell your inner perfectionist that it’s okay: you understand that it’s trying to protect you but you know what you’re doing and you’re going to finish that task. And I’m finishing this post now.