As introverts, we tend to be perfectionists more often than not. Maybe it’s because we generally spend more time alone than extroverts, where we reflect on our lives and how it’s coming up short (although frequently measured against impossibly high standards). We also tend to be very focused and thorough with the task at hand, which can sometimes hinder us from getting more stuff done if we delay completing that stuff due to fear of possible criticism for imperfect work.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that perfectionism is just an illusion and an ever-unattainable goal. Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is a reference that I keep within easy reach on my book shelf to remind myself of the pitfalls of perfectionism. A lot of us get caught up on the perfectionism hamster wheel, always trying to look perfect, do perfect, be perfect – perhaps in an attempt to escape judgment from others. In the book, Brown puts it into perspective: “Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” On the other hand, perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”
According to the idea of perfectionism, it’s not good enough that we’re human and (hopefully) trying to do our best on a daily basis. But actually, it’s when we trip up and fall a little short that it helps create opportunities for learning and growth. So, changing from a perfectionist mindset to a “learning” mindset, where we approach everything as a learning experience that will help us become better in whatever we choose to pursue, is one strategy to free ourselves from the perfectionist trap.
Perfectionism, of course, is found in both introverts and extroverts. For this introvert, I can tell you I’ve learned that healthy striving and doing my best is perfection!