Monday, March 2, 2009

A serendipitous sign for my blog: A perfectionism story in the Globe!

I started this blog late last night, and found myself actually dreaming about blog posts all night long. I know, that's not normal. I half blame what were unusually loud plow trucks startling me out of sleep what seemed like every half hour for the strange dream scape of last night.

But anyway, imagine my delight when I opened today and what was the headline in the top left-hand spot? "Perfectionism can be a problem."

I actually checked myself for a second there, thinking, "Wait a minute. Is this a joke?" I honestly felt like I was being punked.

But then I looked around and noticed the page was in fact the legitimate Boston Globe Web site, so I excitedly clicked on the story and gobbled up every line.

Basically, the premise is that perfectionism is great when it drives people in the top of their fields to go over and above to achieve success. That's perfectionism at its best.

It becomes problematic -- and insidiously so, it seems -- when people begin going, well, crazy, driving to achieve some unattainable end.

The trait can actually cause the reverse effect of its intent, creating problems in relationships, and even at work, where you'd think perfectionism would be an ideal employee trait.

One line in the story particularly spoke to my brand of perfectionism, which I'm currently working to overcome.

Carey Goldberg writes this quote from Jeff Szymanski, who is the executive director of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, based in Boston.

"Perfectionism is a phobia of mistake-making."

And that's it. It's all about the fear of a bad outcome that pushes perfectionists to do some of the crazy things they do. As my husband likes to say, "You're worried about something that doesn't exist."

And that's the moral of that story. Let us all, fellow perfectionists, worry-worts and overachievers, just be here now. Let's just try -- try -- to remember that if the house is a mess when friends stop by, or you're not the best golfer on the course, or your work output suffers because you've finally been sidelined by the flu, or even just a cold, that the world will continue to turn, your friends will still love you, golf will still be a sweet way to spend the day, and your boss will just be happy you're not getting everyone else sick.

If that's too scary, pretend it's not. I might turn out it's actually kind of fun.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh (sigh)...a great reminder that, yes, the world will continue going on and will probably be a bit more interesting because of the imperfection ;)