Your project deadline has arrived - you know, the one you've been working tirelessly on and which you've reviewed over and over again. You finished it long ago but waited to send it, just in case. Pressing the 'send' button brings you out in a cold sweat because once you've done it, that’s it. The 'what ifs' bombard your mind. 'What if I've missed something? What if I got something wrong? What if it's not perfect? What if I'm not perfect?
If you're a perfectionist, the above scenario is probably familiar. It goes beyond taking pride in your work; it sets you up for a life in which little pleasure is taken in achieving goals and where you are left with a feeling of deep shame when you might feel judged as less-than-perfect. It's a relentless cycle, so who are you really doing it for? Is there someone important in your past who would accept nothing less than 100% from you and whose acceptance of you was conditional? Perhaps you tirelessly sought recognition from someone as a child and are still seeking it.
Being afraid to get things wrong robs us of many pleasures in life, as we are forever chasing perfection, which is a cruel illusion. We avoid doing enjoyable activities because we might not measure up to our own idea of perfection. Relationships can suffer because nobody can quite make the grade if you cannot accept your own imperfections. Instead of viewing others as lazy or not caring when they slip up, try to see them as human beings, just like you.
Think of it like this: Perfectionism is about looking outwards at what others will think; healthy striving to improve is looking inwards at oneself – a much better place to be.