[Day 3] Let go of perfectionism

When completing tasks, do you worry that you won’t get it right?

That you’ll make mistakes and that it won’t be perfect? Do you worry about what others will think? Or that you’ll be less likable or feel like a failure if your work isn’t executed flawlessly?

Many high-achieving people have identified themselves as perfectionists. This sounds great in theory, but the strive to be perfect keeps us from trying new things and drives procrastination.

A perfectionist constantly strives toward perfection and believes that imperfection is unacceptable. They often won’t complete tasks or even start them due to the fear of it not being just right. They’ve often set unattainably high standards for themselves, are rarely satisfied with their performance, and blame themselves when things go wrong.

This in turn fuels anxiety, the feeling that they’re not good enough and damages their self-esteem.

Some known causes of perfectionism

  • Fear of failure
  • The need to please others/parents
  • Feeling insecure or inadequate
  • The need to be liked/loved by others
  • History of being a high achiever

Health consequences of perfectionism are numerous

  • Psychological: Burnout, stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders
  • Lifestyle: Procrastination, decreased productivity, poor self-esteem, frustration, relationship difficulties

Signs that you may be a perfectionist

  • You won’t start a new task unless you think you can perform it flawlessly.
  • You procrastinate
  • You take longer than others to perform the same task due to over focusing on how to complete the task and how to achieve a perfect end product.
  • You often don’t complete tasks due to your thought that it’s not perfect.

Ways to overcome perfectionism

1. Stop comparing yourself to others

You’re right where you need to be right now. Everyone is on their own journey. Focus on your journey. You have your own unique gifts that you can offer the world.

2. Set realistic and attainable goals

Break things into smaller steps that are realistic and achievable. This allows you to gain momentum in achieving smaller goals that add up to larger goals.

3. Don’t procrastinate. Just Start

  • Put a specified time in your calendar to complete a task.
  • Set time limits for tasks and stick to them.
  • Avoid spending excess time trying to perfect it.
  • Finish your task in the time allotted and move on to the next task.

4. Allow yourself to make mistakes

  • Mistakes are not bad. They’re lessons.
  • Making mistakes means you are growing and learning new things.

5. Let go of the need for approval

  • You don’t need everyone to like you.
  • Your need for approval is hindering you from achieving your goals that will make you happy and define you as a person.

6. Let go of your need to control

  • Don’t attach yourself to the outcome
  • Be flexible: Issues will come up that are not expected. Evaluate, adjust, take action, and move forward. Remember to stay on task within your allotted time scheduled.

7. Celebrate the small victories

  • Compare your achievements to where you were in the past. Remember where you were 1 or 2 years ago and see how far you’ve come. Often people don’t realize how much they’ve achieved.
  • You often have a short lived victory only to set a new goal and become disappointed that you haven’t yet achieved that goal.

8. Be aware of your negative inner dialogue

  • What you say to yourself matters. If you consistently talk negatively to yourself, you will start to believe what you’re telling yourself. Talk to yourself as you would a friend.

9. Practice self compassion

  • You are 100% lovable just the way you are now, including all of your “flaws”.
  • Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself if things don’t go as planned.
  • Practice mindfulness: Even a quick meditation can be a great way to nurture yourself and help you to get back on track.

Letting go of your perfectionism may not be easy but will be worth it. It will be a process that takes time and patience. Trust, acceptance and belief in yourself will empower you to begin a journey that will allow you to unlock a world filled with achievements you never thought possible and will enhance your relationships with yourself and others.

Ready to defeat burnout…

…and renew your passion and love for medicine?

Do you feel paralyzed by feelings of desperation and aren’t sure how you can keep going if things don’t change?

Has your relentless schedule and the high stress demands of your job changed you into someone you no longer recognize?

Have you lost your passion and love for medicine?

If so, I want you to know that there’s a way to manage it all AND feel better without sacrificing your needs or your relationships with your loved ones.


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