Hidden perfectionism

I remember a while ago in job interviews I would say that I’m a perfectionist. And that would be considered a strength. It somehow communicated I would provide excellent work and won’t stop until it’s right.

Truthfully, my sort of perfectionism stopped me from finishing things. Yes, I wanted to put work out there at a high standard but often I actually got less stuff done. And then I completed less and ultimately didn’t accomplish what I had wanted to.

But I recently realised (after recovering from most of my perfectionist tendencies) I still had one little lingering perfectionist trait. It’s so incredibly subtle.

If my day didn’t go as planned or I was behind on my agenda or getting not so great news about a project, I would give up on the day. One of the worst perfectionist behaviours I have is:

when the day doesn’t start off how I would have liked,

I decide to give up on the rest of it.

And then, I stop moving forward with what I need to get done for the day and so by the end of the day I feel like it’s a “bad” day. I end up proving myself right in the worst way.

And of course, that then becomes proof for other potential “bad” days that the day needs to start right to end right. And the cycle is reinforced.

But just recently (literally today), my schedule was interrupted and I had an unexpected appointment in the morning. The morning is usually planned with exercise but today I had to run to the appointment and deal with some tasks thereafter and just like that the morning was gone and it was now well into lunch time.

Exercise was still on the to do list for the day and I caught my brain telling me to move it to tomorrow and that the stuff from this morning was a lot to handle in a short amount of time. Plus, I had another appointment in the afternoon so it seemed like “what’s the point?”, right?

I could see how easy it would be to move the exercise (because up until recently that is what I had been doing) but this time, I witnessed my brain making excuses (which sound really great in the moment) and it wants me to do nothing so it can be efficient (yes, your brain prefers you to stay on the sofa). Motivation usually never arrives on time.

So, I tested fate and decided to exercise (begrudgingly) and at about 2/3 through the exercise, I was glad I started and I was motivated to finish the few items I had left to complete before my afternoon appointment.

And just to prove me right, my afternoon appointment went surprisingly well (a contrast to my morning one). Maybe even a perfect day? Evidence to the contrary, which the brain might fight against at a later time.

But just for today, I’ll stick with the little nugget of wisdom – no matter how the day starts you get to decide how it ends.

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