Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Perfectionism and Organization

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Are you a perfectionist? Last fall, I did some research on perfectionism and discovered that it's not a one-way street. As it turns out, it's an intricate system of intersecting roads:
  • Self-oriented perfectionists are hard on themselves. They feel they should always exert maximum effort and they should hit the target every time. Down time and unreached goals are not an option.
  • Other-oriented perfectionists impose unrealistic standards on other people. 
  • Socially prescribed perfectionists feel the pressure to be perfect, but it's not self-imposed. Instead, they think that others expect them to be perfect, and they behave accordingly.
In addition to having high standards, perfectionists often engage in all-or-nothing thinking, otherwise known as, "if it can't be perfect, why bother?"

When it comes to organization, this outlook can be a heavy burden to bear. If the only time we feel successful is when everything is perfect, then we're going to spend a lot of time feeling unsuccessful. Or. perhaps perfectionism leaves us trapped in a perpetual state of hopeless disorganization: "If my house can't look like the ones on TV, why bother?"

If this sounds like you, don't despair. The good thing about the organization process is that it brings glimmers of perfectionism with it. Maybe the whole house can't be perfect, but maybe that counter you conquered last week can. Maybe your husband won't buy into your new plan for keeping the top of his dresser totally clear, but maybe your intervention will nudge him to come up with a plan of his own. Maybe your house can't look like the one on television, not because you're not working hard enough, but because you don't have a team of people who are paid to keep your house looking like the ones on television.

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So go ahead. Reserve that space (the top of your dresser, perhaps?) that stays perfect -- the one you set up to be just so -- and make that your perfection zone. Then, continue your battle throughout the rest of the house with a goal of continuous growth -- one baby step every day that leads you to your next success. Expand your empire of perfection if you must, but don't try to conquer the whole house.  Start with successes and build outward to the home you want to live in, then take some time to relax with the other people who call that space home.

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