Are you a perfectionist? How is that working for you? I'm taking an educated guess that it makes life kind of miserable. Today I'm talking about why the tendency to strive for perfection is one the least helpful things you can do. And I've got a suggestion to help you re-channel that energy into something with a far better return on the effort investment.
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Hello and welcome. It's Kelly Jayne McCann, professional organizer and clutter coach, and you are listening to Decluttered by Design. A podcast where I provide practical guidance to help you de clutter your life with ease.
Recently someone reached out to me on social media and said, "Hey, what do you have against perfectionists?" I suppose I had that coming because I have made it very clear that I think perfectionist tendencies are unhealthy. I think they're actually detrimental and dangerous.
I speak from experience. My own experience because I think at one point somebody crowned me Queen of Perfection because everything had to be just so. It took so much effort, it was positively exhausting.
But I also have the experience of having worked with a lot of perfectionist personalities, and I can tell you that they are rarely, if ever, truly satisfied. If they even get to the point where they're they think they might be about ready to experience some satisfaction with a job well done, what do they do? They raise the bar just out of reach, so they are constantly striving. They're never able to sit and relax and enjoy a sense of accomplishment over a job well done.
Alone, I think that is a reason to just try to move away from a perfectionist tendency. I think that that is really unhealthy. If you can't enjoy your accomplishments, I think you're missing out on a really satisfying aspect of life.
But more than that, perfectionism gets in the way of daily living. If you're a perfectionist housekeeper, for example, you are constantly reordering and tidying your space, and that works against you when it comes to relationships, because friends and family will become uncomfortable in your home. They might even become uncomfortable in your presence, since they might feel like they're being judged, even if that's not intentional on your part.
If you're a perfectionist, it's really hard for people around you to embrace their own average nous. I mean, who really wants to invite the Martha Stewart of the neighborhood over if you feel like she's going to be critiquing your space. I know I don't I don't want to invite someone like that into my space, and I bet there were people that didn't want to invite me into their space.
Perfectionist rarely realize that they are sending an unintended message of superiority. That's right, when you're acting as a perfectionist, what you're saying to people around you is 'Hey, look at me. I strive for perfection all of the time, and I think you should, too'.
Now I know that most of us that have a perfectionist tendency, that is not what we intend to do. But it's the message that's being sent nevertheless.
Another thing with perfectionist housekeepers is that curve balls really throw them off their game. An illness or an unexpected event that gets in their way of keeping everything just so will create enormous stress. The lack of control they experience in that moment can be extremely upsetting again.
I'm telling you from experience, that when when something came along that threw me off my game and I couldn't keep everything perfect, it was truly anxiety provoking.
Which brings me to my next point.
Perfectionism, because it is so often about how things looks often gets in the way of function, it really does.
You're trying to make everything look pretty and you do it at the expense of function. And if things aren't functioning well, then what is the point?
Perfectly pretty isn't much good, and I can attest to that.
At the beginning of the episode, I said that I had to give up my perfectionist tendencies because I got really sick. Well, the reason that I finally gave up those tendencies was that I realized that if I'm gonna manage this illness, what I need is not for things to be perfect, not for things to be just beautiful around me. I need things to be really functional.
So what worked really well for me was channelling my perfectionist tendency into addressing function. I dialed that in. I channeled all of my need for things to be perfect into being perfectly functional. And once I had everything functioning really well, then I felt free to go ahead and make it look good too.
Now, I'm gonna tell you that that was a game changer because when things are functioning really well, they become easier to manage. And when things were easier to manage, it's easier that keep everything tidy. And I found that I was able to really relax. That felt really good.
So now I encourage people to do the very same thing. If you are a perfectionist personality, channel that energy into making things truly functional and then go ahead and put put the icing on the cake.
It's kind of like making your house look beautiful. If it's not standing on a strong foundation and things go sideways, then your house is falls down. But if you've got that strong foundation to start with, then even if the wind whips up and blows the branches all over the yard and make the shutters go cattywampus, you're still OK. You can still go on. You may have to fix the aesthetics, but you still have a solid foundation there. You still have a house to live in. So that's why I encourage people to focus on function first and then go back and make it beautiful.
Let me know what you think about this idea. Do you think about function at all? Are you perfectionist personality? Have you learned anything about yourself that has allowed you to move away from those perfectionist tendencies and enjoy life a little more? In any event, I would love to hear from you. You can find me everywhere at Organizing Maven.