A few days ago I asked my mother to call me on it whenever she noticed my perfectionism rearing its ugly head in an inappropriate way. That is, when it stops me from getting clutter out of my house, or stops me from getting something done that I have been procrastinating on, or that prevents me from acting on dreams of mine, no matter how small they may be.
Perfectionism is a wonderful tool when it is used to help organize a meeting that I am running, or a project I'm putting together (as long as I can reach a stopping point). When I am accountable to someone else, I put my perfectionism skills to work to make sure I provide them with my best service/outcome/etc.
Here are some of the things I say to myself that reek of inappropriate perfectionism:
- I'm not going to write in my journal because I don't have the perfect journaling spot in my house.
- I'm not going to post something on my blog because I don't have anything funny to say.
- I can't clean my house properly because I don't have the right hard-wood floor cleaner-upper-machine.
- I can't take unwanted or unused items out of my house to give away because I don't have the space to sort and organize them first. (And I don't have the time to sort and organize them first.)
- I can't start writing thank you notes because there are so many and I don't want someone to feel neglected because they didn't get one in a timely manner when others did, and I don't have a block of uninterrupted time to write all of them at once.
- I can't exercise today because both of my kids are home from school and one is sick.
- We have to eat at a restaurant today because I don't have the ingredients for a traditional supper on hand. (And I don't have the time or energy to cook. - this I'm saying already at 8:50am about supper!)
I think I am making my point here. So any of you that read this and know me and have opportunity to communicate with me, please follow my mother's lead at my request. If you notice my perfectionistic tendencies interfering with my quality of life and/or the work I am capable of getting done, please point this out to me. I suggest you say something like, "Helen, remember what you asked us to help you with?..." That simple question should do the trick.