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A Perfectionist with a Cluttered House? Is that Possible?

When I'm teaching a seminar on perfectionism... I usually have some fun in the beginning of the day by having the group profile a "typical" perfectionist.

They will shout out things like... "Type A personality!"  "A driver!"  "Controlling!"  "A hard worker!" 

And almost always... someone will say something like... "Their house looks like a museum!  Clean.  Polished.  Perfectly maintained." 

And yes... all of these things can be true.  300905712_b6565adeb8

BUT... can a person have a cluttered home... a cluttered desk... a cluttered life... and still be a perfectionist? 


It's true.

In fact, more often than not... a person who is dealing with perfectionism... will have a lot of clutter in their life.


Well... many times... a perfectionist will look at a task like cleaning their home and they'll want to do it perfectly.  So they'll start to list all of the things they need to do in their head.  Scrub the floors.  Fold the laundry.  Pick up the toys in the kid's room.  Wash the windows.  Dust.  Mow the lawn. 

The list grows and grows because they want to do it perfectly.  Right?

Then they might look at the clock and see that they only have an hour.  And... that's when they realize that they can't get it all done... perfectly.

So... many times... the person dealing with perfectionism... just won't do it.  They stop.  They say to themselves... either consciously or subconsciously... "If I can't get it done perfectly... why even start?" 

Sound familiar?

For you... maybe this happens at work.  Maybe it's research for a new service that you'd like to offer.  Or... maybe it's getting around to hiring that new person you know that you need.  Or maybe it's looking at your benefits package.

You just don't start... because you can't do it perfectly.  It would take too long.  It's overwhelming. 

And maybe... like many people... you didn't even know that you were dealing with perfectionism.

At this point, some might suggest a mantra like "It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be done."  And this can work.  But... as business owners... the risk of this type of statement is that we might produce work that falls short of the  level of excellence we want for our organization. 

So... here's a suggestion. 

When you come up against this challenge.  Break your project down into manageable parts.  Recognize that you can't get all of it done perfectly, right now.  But, you can do one part really really well. 

So decide on that one thing and go after it.

Then commit to scheduling a time to take the next step.

This can help you to break through the stalemate that perfectionism can cause.  And it can help you to get the things done that you need to get done.  Whether it's getting rid of the clutter at home... or getting that BIG project at work... done.

Want to find out more... Check out Rodger Constandse's post on Avoiding Perfectionism without getting sloppy!

What other strategies have helped you to break through perfectionism?  Let us know.  Share your wisdom.  Just click on "comments" and let the rest of us know how YOU do it!

Photo credit: florriebassingbourn


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This is a great comment about perfectionism. I can relate to it. I also know that breaking any project down into manageable tasks work "perfectly". Thanks for reminding us of small steps.

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