I have really good problems this week—they aren’t problems at all. My current situation is where I’ve worked hard to be as a business owner.
Four clients requested proposals instead of me having to chase business. YEAH! One client put out a formal RFP (Request for Proposal) for a great project.
Back to my non-problems. I have been neck deep in the RFP and itching to go through the applications. Somewhere along day two, I realized an old problem was creeping back in.
Yup, my Serial Perfectionism was rearing its head.
I have at times been known to want things to be done “just right”, perfect even. The trouble is, I’ve never quite reached that goal.
The RFP spells out in 58 pages, the requirements for submitting the proposal. I’m a rule follower at heart and don’t want to give them any unnecessary reason to render my package a “non-response.” I have been beyond anal about my response.
Now some of you will say “what’s wrong with that?” The problem is, I have three other opportunities waiting for a response and those awesome 29 experts to get to.
Then I remember that I’m a recovering serial perfectionist.
Awareness is the First Step to Recovery
If you can raise your hand and admit to being a serial perfectionist, it’s time to go into recovery.
Awareness is truly the first step. You have to acknowledge when you cross the line between having high standards vs. an unreasonable expectation of perfectionism.
You know you’ve crossed the line when your insistence on high standards starts to get in the way of collaboration, team work and results.
The Second Step–Let Go of the Paralysis
Analysis paralysis usually goes hand in hand with serial perfectionism. You can easily get caught up in considering all the factors, angles and variables.
You become paralyzed analyzing what you want to do and how you will do it.
This paralysis is getting in the way of you even starting your projects.
I struggled with how to approach the RFP, then finally realized I had to start somewhere. Pick a place in the that’s low hanging fruit. Something easy to do. In my case, it was setting up the binders. It got me on the roll and I just kept it moving.
The Third Step-Done is Better Than None
Realizing that you’ll never get to 100% perfect, what’s an acceptable standard? How will you judge when it’s good enough?
You need a reasonable goal in order to move forward.
Someone told me that for serial perfectionists like us, our “good enough” is someone else’s “extraordinary.” We underestimate how good our 85% really is.
Deadlines can really help you get things done. The more external pressure the better. Commit to others and ask them to hold you accountable so you’ll not just get things started—they’ll get done!
Some Final Thoughts…
As with all things, you changing habits takes time. Even when you think you’re beyond it, stress will make old bad habits rear their heads.
When serial perfectionism starts to creep back in, try these helpful tips:
- Do the best job you can in the time you have available, but don’t steal time from other tasks.
- Recognize that your self-esteem comes from who you are, not from how you perform a task.
- Don’t set unrealistic standards for yourself or others.
- Think ROI- return on investment. Don’t give or spend more time on a project than you’ll get back from the result. If there is limited return, limit your time.
- Figure out before you start the project how much time you are willing to devote to a task and work within that budgeted amount.
I’d love to hear how you handle serial perfectionism. Drop me a line and let me what works for you.