Five Reasons Why Perfectionism Ruins the Holidays

Why Perfectionism Ruins the Holidays

By Aimee Cohen

Photo credit: Bing images

We have all been told that “practice makes perfect”… but does it? Is there really such a thing as perfect? Of course not! It’s a myth, a vicious rumor, an elusive goal, a painful trap, and a destructive ideal that we need to acknowledge and put in its proper place.

The pressure for perfection can be overwhelming and damaging to our self-esteem, especially during the holidays. Specific religious beliefs aside, this is the time of year when we are all supposed to be spending quality time with family and friends, making special memories, and enjoying the festivities.

Unfortunately, for most perfectionists, this is the time of year that causes the most anxiety. To be honest, it’s stressful for everyone to brave the crowds at the mall, or stand in line for hours to get the hottest gift of the season whether it’s Tickle-Me-Elmo, a Cabbage Patch Doll, or the latest Call of Duty video game…but perfectionists take that pressure to a whole new level.

We all want the holidays to be special, but a perfectionist believes that if it’s not perfect it’s a colossal failure. It’s all or nothing, black or white, the greatest holiday ever or the worst day in the history of the world. There is powerful driving force that compels perfectionists to find that perfect gift, adorn the house with the perfect homemade decorations just like Martha Stewart, and prepare the perfect holiday meal right out of the pages of Gourmet magazine.

Ladies, we know better! Intellectually, we know that perfection doesn’t exist, but emotionally we still strive for it. Many women are trapped inside this “Perfectionism Prison” and it ruins their holidays. This prison may not have metal bars and armed guards keeping watch, but it’s powerful enough to keep us locked inside our own destructive thoughts and behaviors.

This is not a new phenomenon. The quest for perfection existed back in the Stone Age when cavewomen agonized over the cave décor and scoured the plains to find a recipe for the perfect mammoth burgers. Then in the 1950s, women worried about being the perfect homemaker, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, and the perfect hostess.

Today, we still strive for perfection in all those areas, and we’ve added “perfect professional” to the list. After we are perfectly prepared, we want to pursue the perfect professional opportunity that will guarantee the perfect outcome and lead to the perfect career path.

When evaluating a job description, women believe they need to have nearly 100% of the requirements and qualifications in order to apply for the position. In stark contrast, men only need 60%. Women want a perfect match before moving forward. Otherwise, they will hyper-focus on the one skill they don’t have, or don’t have enough of, and convince themselves they’re completely under-qualified and no hiring manager on earth would ever consider them for an interview. (Just for the record, a 100% match with any job description is like walking on the moon…it’s possible, but very few people actually experience it.)

Women become crippled with self-doubt and insecurities to the point where it sabotages their careers. By nature, women are low risk-takers and are paralyzed by the thought of looking stupid, silly, or incompetent…of appearing imperfect. The Perfectionism Prison is a self-imposed trap, a limiting mindset, and one of the fastest ways women kill their careers and ruin their entire holiday season.

The following five tips, “You Know You’re a Perfectionist When…”, will reveal if you are trapped inside the Perfectionism Prison. They are written from my experience as a successful career coach and shared in my book, Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success.

  1. You miss deadlines because the project is never good enough to be done.
  2. You instantly become defensive if someone questions or criticizes you.
  3. You secretly love it when someone else fails because it makes you look better.
  4. You truly believe there are no letters between “A” and “F”.
  5. You put up a wall so others can’t get close enough to see your imperfections.

It’s time to realize that perfection is a façade. None of us are perfect nor do we really want to be. It’s the flaws and imperfections that make us unique and interesting. It’s the quality time we get to spend with our loved ones that fills our hearts and makes our lives meaningful. Release the idea that the holidays are going to be perfect and celebrate that the unexpected surprises are what really matters. Liberate yourself from this prison once and for all and Woman UP!

About the Author

Aimee Cohen is a career expert, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success. For more than 20 years, and with a nearly 100% success rate, Aimee has empowered women to pull on those “big-girl panties” and take control of their careers.

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