Unmasking Perfectionism

Watching videos on decluttering and Marie Kondo recently, I came across a video by Safiya Nygaard that described the “80/80” rule. She keeps her house organized 80% of the time so that it’s just good enough. And that idea wins the day. And that includes getting rid of perfectionism.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

High achievers are often perfectionists

Are you a high achiever? I wrote about this type of strength, which may also describe you: What’s Your Best Social Media Super Power? Also: it’s possible to be a high achiever but not a perfectionist. Naturally, you can be a bit of both. The difference between them, though, is that high achievers are usually supportive of other people. And focusing on other people can help you steer away from perfectionism.

Perfectionism is unrealistic

If life looks like an endless report card, you might like this article from Psychology Today ( I love that right at the top there’s a link so you can find a therapist lol!) Do you agree with perfectionism being fear-based? I certainly do, having come from a family which glorified perfectionism. However, if you’re a perfectionist, chances are that you’re not as well liked as you could be. Think about it. When you hear the word perfectionist, does someone you know (and don’t like much) come to mind? Recently we were on a vacation at an AirBnb. The place was immaculate, but there were rules posted everywhere. Keep this window open when you leave. Pull back the covers on the beds if the sheets have been slept in. And there was the Do not touch the blue button! which of course made everyone want to touch the blue button!

Perfectionism leads to stress

If you’re stressed out trying to be perfect, maybe it’s time to drop it for awhile. One thing the pandemic taught me is that I don’t have to do everything. In fact, most people won’t even notice if I don’t do everything. Or if a couple of things drop off my to-do list. Or if my to-do list gets dropped altogether! In fact, taking a vacation or a long siesta seem like better ideas that being a perfectionist.





  1. This couldn’t have come at a better time! Sadly, I’ve always been a perfectionist, and I recently decided to do my work with awareness of exactly how I am doing it, and lo and behold, I discovered a plethora of time-wasting and unnecessary tasks I was doing. Why do I need a specific colored pen for a task? Why do I need color-coded file folders to hold stuff I seldom, if ever, re-read? I started scanning docs rather than printing and filing; it saves time, paper, ink, and my printer. I’ve even applied this to my YouTube videos on using Medical Cannabis; I no longer worry if I act a bit goofy…I AM goofy and fun. Why was I trying to be “perfect” and not ME? The folks I’m doing them for, the Cannabis Care Team in MO, actually loved that I wanted to relax more and have fun. Who knew? Carol, this was a great blog post!

    • Hi Taru, What a nice surprise to see your comment! Yes, you are a perfectionist. It’s good to question some of those self-imposed rules every once in a while, right? Wow–I need to start watching your YouTube videos on medical cannabis! And I love your goofiness! I’m happy that the team is loving your new videos! And I’m happy you loved the blog post, too!


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