We all want to do put our best foot forward, try our hardest and do everything in our power to “make things right.”  Perfectionists, however, want everything they do, everyone in their lives, and especially themselves to be “perfect.” The problem with “perfect,” of course, is twofold…”perfect” isn’t possible and “perfect” has more than one definition depending upon who is doing the defining.

Psychologists tell us that the perfectionism mindset is born from anxiety…anxiety about not being good enough, about others judging us negatively, about disappointing or letting someone down; anxiety about not being valued/loved/respected if we’re not perfect.  While some of us can take or leave the mistakes we make and move on, perfectionists can’t. Perfectionists interpret every mistake they make as a personal flaw. And since we all make hundreds of mistakes every day, perfectionists are afraid to risk having more personal flaws, making more mistakes, being an even bigger failure.  The result?  Perfectionists procrastinate, put off, don’t attempt or risk anything for fear of failing and not being perfect yet again.

Here are some strategies that can change such stifling perfectionist mindsets…

  1.  Set realistic goals.  Let’s say that its time to turn in your business plan for next year. Your goal is do better than this year, obviously.  However, if you sold 25 houses this year, the chances of selling 100 next year is probably very slim.  It’s great to be ambitious, but put yourself in a mind frame to feel surprised, not disappointed, or less-than.
  2.  Forget the “All or Nothing” mindset.  Perfectionism does not breed perfection; in fact, feeling that every single thing/person must be perfect only breeds more mistakes.  Instead, rather than making the same mistakes by doing the same things over and over again, try different options to see what works and what doesn’t.  This way, you’ll begin to succeed slowly rather than failing quickly.
  3. Remember the 80/20 and the 70% rules.  Let’s say that you’re writing up a listing for marketing purposes.  As long as what you write describes the essence of the house, 80% of the listing is done.  That 80% is good enough.  It doesn’t have to be “perfect.  And as long as 70% of your effort goes into writing that 80% listing, that’s good enough too.  Any more effort and any more specifics won’t make that listing better.
  4. Seek out trusted people for feedback. Because perfectionists know better than anyone else what their shortcomings and faults are, find someone who knows what your attributes/qualities/contributions are and ask them to give you some positive feedback on a regular basis.  They’ll love doing it.  That positive feedback will help balance the constantly negative self-talk you scream inside your brain every day.
  5. Sort out the “must haves” from the “good to haves.”  Make a list of all the things, both the must haves and the good to haves, needed to get your new listing sold.  Make the “must haves” on that list your absolute priority. Forget the “good to haves” until/if ever you have extra time.
  6. Celebrate small “wins” every day.  It doesn’t matter how small these wins are even even if it’s getting up and out of bed when your alarm goes off.  Write it down you can see it in print and celebrate it.  Your brain will like the chemicals you’ll release with that celebration, that recognized sense of accomplishment and will want more of those chemicals.  This is how you train your brain to become more positive.
  7. Focus on the big picture of selling your new listing.  Don’t get stuck on one little detail, that one little detail you didn’t mention in the listing write-up, that could undermine your overall efforts towards getting that house sold.


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