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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Musings on Being a Perfectionist

Sharon left this comment on my blog yesterday.

Because you are so focused on getting to the bottom of this perfectionism, I truly believe you will find your answers. But finding the answers and then working through them are two different things and the whole process will take time that will seem very slow. Be patient! Hope we can help out as sounding boards.

Two things immediately sprang to my mind. One, I am sooooo glad I have such wise readers. They point out truths that I don't see, or maybe don't want to see. I can't begin to count the times, I've poured out my heart in a post feeling lost, and then got a comment that made me wonder why I hadn't thought of that myself. My nephew told me once that I revealed far more of myself than I realized. I thought he was making that observation because he knew me and could read between the lines a little better than *strangers*, now I think he was right.

Second, Sharon was pointing out an age hold pattern for me - rushing to the conclusion. I am impatient. There is no doubt. I was probably born that way too! I thought that age had calmed me some, so I was ignoring that little issue. Both issues go hand in hand. I don't like holding the mirror up to my flaws, so I hurry to fix the problem so that once again, I'll be perfect.

I spent most of the evening being thankful first for the wisdom of all of my readers, and second pondering about rushing myself. Instead of allowing myself little 'errors' every now and then to inure myself, I need to continue to dig, find the root, and stop it there.

I didn't come to any grand conclusions last night but I did realize how much my career choice feeds the whole problem. I hold a BBA in accounting and an MBA in finance. In the numbers world there is no room for error. It is right or it is wrong. It is that simple and it appeals to my nature. No one wants their paycheck to be 'close enough' unless maybe it is an overpayment. The mortgage company doesn't say 'send us what you can' each month.

Being accurate is rewarded in my industry. I have had two positions where I reported to individuals that made me look like a sloth. It wasn't good enough to have the data correct, but the reports had to be centered on the page just so. Or, if something was due on the 15th of the month, it was not just any old time on the 15th, but 8:00 am. If I met those goals there was another, more stringent goal waiting in the wings. I am absolutely not exaggerating. Looking back now, I wonder why I didn't develop a tic.

I'm not considering a career change, although I often discuss early retirement with 65MD! ;-D Right now, I'm just observing the layers of the issue. I'm hoping insight will follow.


  1. This made me smile. An MBA. Yep. Right career choice for a perfectionist. As you said, there is no grey area in your job. Where would the world be if we forced everyone to roam the grey area of good enough?

    The trick is--I know I said this before--is to value your temperament traits and see them as gifts--and at the same time, keep them in sane boundaries so that they do not careen into pathology.

    It's kind of like pets. No one likes to be around a poorly trained one. They become tyrants instead of delights. Personality traits--same way. Make your need to get it right a delight, not a tyrant.

    People don't ditch their pets when they become troublesome (At least, not as first option.), but they retrain them. Personally, I find it easier to love my dog back to good behavior than myself--but that could be just me. :}


  2. Funny how it's so much easier to dispense wisdom to someone else than it is to see those things within ourselves that we need to see. Glad my words were helpful. I believe you are on to something with the career thing. With a 25 year Human Resources career behind me, I can tell you that accounting/finance people were some of the most difficult to work with from an HR standpoint for EXACTLY the reasons you've described.

    And BTW, I highly recommend retirement! LOL!

  3. I just lost my comment...anyway, you are not alone - I'm with you on this one! I don't have any degrees but I do know of the chains that perfectionism can have. I agree w/ Deb's comments - I always told my kids that each characteristic that they (we) have can have a good side and a bad side, i.e. a child who is giving - can be very thoughtful but they can also be stepped on by others and not look after themselves. A child who is confident can tackle everything well, but they can also seem arrogant to others - everything, again, in moderation and with boundaries!