Perfectionist Mindset Can Kill Your Creativity

But there are ways to overcome it.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Are you a perfectionist? No, don’t answer that question! Let me rephrase that for you, are you a person who delays everything to rethink the whole shebang and get every detail right! Whether it is,

  • Writing a blog
  • Creating a youtube video
  • Writing that business plan for your new venture
  • Planning to write a novel
  • Trying to launch a business
  • Getting your diet right, etc.
  • Waiting to propose to your love one

“A person who wants everything to be perfect and demands the highest standards possible” — this is the actual dictionary definition of a perfectionist. No, I certainly am not saying having high standards is a bad thing. In fact, striving for excellence can show that you have a good work ethic and strength of character. Perfectionism, on the other hand, involves a tendency to set insane standards that are so high that they either cannot be met, or are only met with great difficulty. Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is shameful and that even minor imperfections will lead to absolute tragedy.

Most of us who are involved in the creative field tends to procrastinate & put off work so that we can get it just right in just the right time. But eventually, we end up sabotaging our level of creativity in the process of getting it just perfect. Nonetheless, I understand that every creative endeavour comes with a high level of uncertainty & a degree of perfectionism. And there are ways to hack your perfectionist instinct to make it work better for you & make tremendous progress and still achieve high levels of creativity in your work as well as in life.

To tell you the truth, I am a guy who has been procrastinating for a long time. I wanted to write a novel in school but I put off for when I go to college. And eventually, when I went to college, I put it off for the post-graduation. And the reason I did that was I believed in my mind I could produce better content for when I become more mature & wiser. But as it turns out, that was an absolute BS argument I gave myself for over the course of 10 long years.

For most adults, making a mistake can feel like a crime. For the most part of my academic life, I have been one of the top-performing student in school & in university. And that came with the burden of not making any mistakes. You have to be extremely punctual, submit all the damn assignments on time, put in an insane amount of effort & time into not disappointing your superiors and professors. In the process, I missed out on tonnes of opportunities & valuable lessons just because I was scared of making any mistakes. And more so because our society doesn’t tolerate making mistakes. But, it’s inevitable to make mistakes from time to time and believing that making a mistake doesn’t mean you have failed entirely at something.

Over time, you may even start to believe that you are not as capable as others or as you thought you were earlier. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider loosening up your standards a little to ease the stress and anxiety you may feel from trying so hard to be perfect.

Examples of perfectionistic feelings: It can make you feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry, especially if you constantly criticize yourself for not living up to your own standards. I have wasted a lot of time & effort trying to reunite my own conflicting thoughts but like they say you can overcome anything if you work on it.

So Here Are A Few Steps to Help You Overcome Perfectionism

  1. Learning To Recognize The Perfectionist Pattern

This is the first step & will help you to understand and recognize if you actually have a perfectionist attitude. Be an observer rather than a critic if you want to make fast pace progress.

  • Have I been told that my standards are too high?
  • Do my standards get in the way of my progress, meeting deadlines, completing tasks, personal fulfilment?

If your answer is yes, you have a perfectionism problem.

2. Practice Mindfulness (Meditate)

Meditation can calm your thoughts & relax your muscles which means it will help you stay more in the present. Staying in the present can make you a rational being which in turn helps you to reflect more on your goals & progress in different aspects of your life. With mindfulness, you will be able to make better life choices. And that eventually means you’ll not waste time unnecessarily because you know time is limited. And you know in your right mind making progress on something consistently is better than miraculously hitting the jackpot somehow of the blue.

3. Shun Away The Black & White Thinking

Believing anything less than perfection is a failure. Or giving into thinking, If I need help from others, then I am weak. This kind of thinking is certainly not going to help make any progress. Like they say, change your thinking — change your life!

4. Giving Into The Should Statements

Do you have the tendency to justify all of your mistakes?

e.g. “I should never make mistakes” or “I should have seen this coming” or “I should have predicted the outcomes of this situation”.

Well, if you ask me this are all BS self-justification statements. And doesn’t do any good in the short as well as in the long term. Stop justifying & accept that you’re going to make tonnes of mistakes along the way if you are going to achieve something substantial in the long run.

5. Be Realistic & Break Down Your Goals

Since we live in an age of distraction & mind-numbing habits, it has become now more than ever important to be realistic with our goals and also to break them down into small achievable bites. So if your working on something difficult or not so apparent projects, try to break down the basic fundamentals and look from the inventor’s point of view. Picked this up from Elon Musk! Seriously though, break everything down, the complex becomes much simpler and you can make progress more quickly.

The fact is the majority of us suffer from some level of perfectionism either in our creative endeavours or in our professional life. But it’s just another habit or a form of creative roadblock that we can all overcome with a heightened level of awareness and deliberate attention with the work at hand.

Set realistic goals & break them down into achievable chunks to beat Perfectionist Instincts.

Stay Awesome!




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Mohd Arif Hussain

Mohd Arif Hussain


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