12/21/2012 12:13 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

The Tyranny of Trying to Do It Perfectly

With holiday tasks to accomplish, work projects to be finished, and family obligations to be met, realize that something has got to give. Perhaps it's time for it to be your perfectionism.

Life is messy, so why do so many of us try to do things perfectly -- working relentlessly to perfect small, insignificant details because everything must be done flawlessly? When we do this, we aren't happy, we are hardly ever satisfied, and we are unable to recognize our own achievements or those of others. The outcomes of our work are exceptional, but at what price? Most likely, we are projecting problems that may or may not occur, instead of thinking about positive outcomes.

Even though perfectionism is a hard habit to break, try some of the ideas below:

Use positive mantras. Tell yourself as you are doing tasks that everything will get done, even if it is not done perfectly. And let that be okay.

Pause in between tasks. After finishing a task, take a break before going on to the next one. Acknowledge what you already have accomplished. It's likely that you will feel more fulfilled if you do this.

Take bold moves. You are more capable than you think: Go for that promotion, meet one of the higher ups, take a calculated risk. Don't underestimate how much you have to offer.

Fear keeps you constricted. When you have something that you need to do exactly right, you can bet that fear has something to do with it. Fear of failing, fear of succeeding -- you pick which is appropriate for you.

What is the worst case scenario? Maybe you'll make a mistake, or it won't be done exactly right -- so what? You can learn from your mistakes and probably no one, but you, is keeping score.

Acknowledge yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. Give yourself the credit you deserve. You have joined the ranks of the majority of people who are less than perfect.

For more by Helene Lerner, click here.

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