Do you take pride in being a perfectionist? Do you want everything to be perfect before you let anyone see your work? Then this blog post might be the one for you, because I’m here to introduce an idea to you today. It might be a little provocative but hear me out. The idea is this:
Perfectionism is procrastination in disguise. Today we are going to switch the motto “Perfect isn’t good enough” to “Done is better that perfect”, and we are going to examine why so many of us, especially we INFJ and INFP people, so easily get stuck in this trap.
You might think that this is a bold statement, but nevertheless I will discuss why I believe that this is actually the case. You will also get a couple of exercises to help you to start letting that perfectionism go.
If you are a perfectionist, you might take pride in being one. But as a matter of fact, this is nothing you want to maintain. Why? Because the urge to present yourself and your work 100% perfect all the time might actually be a sign of a much bigger issue that you don’t want to deal with and instead hide it under the rug of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a lot like learning a language
Studies show that learning 80% of a new language takes between six to twelve months. With 80% you can easily have everyday conversations with native speakers. So this is what you want to aim for, right? There are so many words you will never have to use if you set yourself up to learn 100% of a language. Very few native speakers know their own language 100%.
If you want to excel a bit more and learn an additional 15% of a language, you will have to put in 10 years to learn all the nuances in a language. And for the final 5%? Well, you will have to put in ten more years to accomplish that extra crème de la crème. So the question is:
Do you want to spend 21 years learning ONE language perfectly and flawlessly, or do you want to learn 21 languages to the level that you can easily have a conversation with a native speaker in that same amount of time?
Perfect always takes longer
My point is that you have to know when it’s time to say: “Good enough!”
A perfectionist would rather put in the time it takes to do something 100% perfectly, at the cost of almost never getting anything done. This is a nice thought and all, but think about it. And if they are a part of a team they will get on everybody’s nerves due to the delay.
This is a problem for both you as a perfectionist and the people around you.
Your wounded inner child needs you
If you are a proud perfectionist you don’t have to stop being that. You can do what you want. But keep in mind that the reason why you don’t want to deliver anything that isn’t 100% perfect might be that deep down you don’t feel that you can be loved otherwise.
This is the deep tragedy behind perfectionism. It’s nothing wrong with wanting to do something perfectly, as long as you don’t get neurotic and attached to the outcome so much that you believe that it HAS to be perfect in order to have a right to exist.
A simple exercise to help you get out of your perfectionism and heal your wounded inner child
Why would you want to do that, you might think. “I want things to be perfect and in order”, you might say. Nothing wrong with having your things and thoughts tidy and neat. The problem starts when you are becoming neurotic about it.
So if you feel that you want to loosen up a little bit, and try to challenge your perfectionism, this might be a good creative exercise for you:
Step 1: Grab a piece of paper and a pencil.
Step 2: Put the pencil in the hand that you usually don’t write with.
Step 2: Draw a quick portrait of someone WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE PAPER. Just draw without being attached to the result. Draw only the outlines.
Step 1: Grab a piece of paper or a painting canvas and some acrylic or water colors.
Step 2: Paint without looking at the paper. Close your eyes and paint with acrylic or water color. It’s a hard challenge to paint without even knowing which color you are using, but try.
Step 1: grab a pen and some paper
Step 2: write some sentences. They don’t have to mean anything. Don’t think about what you are writing, just write whatever comes into your mind.
Why would I want to do that, you might think. This has nothing to do with my work as an accountant (or whatever you work with).
Your inner child doesn’t need perfectionism, it needs love
The point is that you will go back to nourishing your inner child, who is the main role in this perfectionism drama. Maybe you were thought of as a “weird” child when you were growing up. Or you didn’t receive the love you needed by being yourself. You the quickly learned that if you get nice grades, tidy your room or something like that, then you got the love you needed but not otherwise.
Really look into what your inner child needs. It is a creative, almost chaotic being, and you want to create a space for it where it can flourish without being afraid that it will stain the carpet. If you want to write, start the day by writing something that isn’t so polished and perfect.
The fear of putting yourself out there
The worst part of the perfectionism story is that deep down we all know what this is really about: The fear of putting yourself out there. We try to avoid this at any cost. There is always a better sentence, a new course or a new piece of equipment that you HAVE to get before you can get started.
But the truth is that you don’t have to equip yourself anymore. Your job is to put yourself out there in the arena. But it’s scary. I get it. What if someone critiques you? Could you live with that?
This is often the scariest part of putting yourself out there in the arena. What if someone shouts “BOOO!”? If you haven’t already, I want you to take a look at Brenée Browns Ted talk where she discusses these topics of vulnerability and courage.
I know this is really hard for an INFJ person. But something I know that an INFJ person has, is courage. And that’s what it takes to get into the arena and put yourself out there. The important part is that you want to contribute to the world. And it doesn’t have to be perfect in order for people to listen.
Related article: !3 ways to connect with your inner child