Sometimes I think I’m a perfectionist. At least that’s what a part of me says when I don’t want to take a risk. If you’re going to do this, you better do it right. (Hello, pressure!) What if I don’t do it right? What if this doesn’t work out?
As human beings we subject ourselves to two kinds of perfection: self-imposed and externally imposed. Externally imposed perfection is easier to deal with because the standard is usually clear. You (or someone else) can tell when you’ve met it, usually in terms of quality, time, or dollars.
There’s another breed of perfection, a trickier, stealthier kind. Self-imposed perfection is borne from our internal expectations, ideas, anything that’s been planted in our brains during our lives. The standards are vague, even concocted. What you should do. What the right thing is. The white-picket-fence-Stepford-kinda-way. (Yikes!)
Self-imposed perfection rears its head when there is something you really want to do. A dream. A big idea that keeps you up at night. The career change you’d love to make but other people wouldn’t understand.
Ultimately, perfectionism arises because of fear. It’s not the standard you hold yourself to that is relevant. It’s actually about the underlying thing that you’re doing – the task, the action, the project you want to do but haven’t started. That thing is what matters to you.
Without external motivation or built-in repercussions, it’s up to you. You’re scared. You’ll fail. You’ll look stupid. People will judge you. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. It has to be amazing. You won’t make money from it. You’ll end up on the street. The list is endless.
Uncertain outcome + “It matters” + “It’s up to me” = Fear à Perfectionism