I've moved from being a perfectionist to anti-perfectionist. This is how I did it.
But wait, isn’t perfectionism a helpful trait?
No. Not at all.
Perfectionism is surrounded by mythology. At the surface level, people equate perfectionism with striving for excellence. But at its core, perfectionism is a defensive move. It is an excuse to postpone meaningful action under the guise that now is not the perfect time. As a result, it helps you avoid the painful feelings of failure, judgment and shame.
If you're a perfectionist, I recommend rereading the above paragraph and thinking about it meaningfully. I wish someone had told me to do that 5 years ago.
I think perfectionistic traits often stem from seeking approval. I grew up being praised for achieving at several things. I had internalised this positive association of success by trying to avoid failure through perfectionism. Perfectionism for me had become about what other people thought - I didn't want to let others down.
But now one might even say that I'm an anti-perfectionist.
I've learnt to make decisions more quickly, under more uncertainty, and finish tasks more efficiently.
So how do this change come about?
The first step was self-awareness.
But more practically, I have tried to follow three principles:
Now, I could go on. I could flesh out all these ideas. But I want to keep this article short. I think you will get more value from rereading what’s here than from a longer article. The three principles I listed are some of the most impactful lessons I have learnt over the past three years.