Why You Don’t Need to Be Mary Poppins

A few years ago, I worked with a fabulous teacher who regularly used the phrase; “I’m not Mary Poppins”.  Actually, there was an additional word in there but it can’t be typed here without stars.  It was her reminder to recognise when good enough was good enough.  It worked.  Now, when I’m trying to squeeze too much in or over-thinking, it quickly comes to mind and helps me to focus.  Here are some extra tips to help.

1.       Be kind to yourself

Being highly self-critical can be at the root of perfectionism so listen carefully to the messages you tell yourself.  Just spotting them helps and replacing them with more positive messages is even better.

2.       Be kind to others

How often is your criticism of others based on your own expectation of perfection? I’m not suggesting lowering standards, but being aware of what we think about others can help counteract our own perfectionist tendencies.

3.       Learn to recognise black and white thinking

Watch out for thinking a task can only be achieved one way or absolutely must be done now.  Try challenging yourself to come up with a range of different solutions.  Ask, “What else can I do to achieve this?”

4.       Look back

Think of times when you couldn’t or didn’t make something perfect.  What was your learning there?  How can you apply that now?

5.       Look forward

Consider how striving for perfection will help or hinder you in the future – short and long term.

6.       Plan coping strategies

If you know perfectionism can sabotage your progress, plan for it.  For example set tight time limits.

7.       Ask what you are assuming…

…and then challenge those assumptions.  “If I don’t get this perfect, people will think I’m rubbish”.  Really?  Isn’t it more likely people will recognise you are human? 

The point is, Mary Poppins described herself as “practically perfect in every way” (even she allowed herself a little slack), however many of us sabotage our own success with perfectionism.  If you are spending too much time trying to get things just right, here's a quote to think about.

“Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.’   Brene Brown

PS   If there are any mistakes in the blog I apologise.  I followed my advice above, made a plan to proof read twice and then move on!