Perfectionists Feel Pressure of the Holiday Season

November 22, 2010
If you are a perfectionist who sets unrealistic deadlines that don’t get met, become a recovering perfectionist, learn to accept the constraints of time and energy, and set more realistic targets in the future.

As I’ve written a number of times in posts on perfectionism, unrealistic self-imposed deadlines, no matter how enjoyable they may appear, often interfere with the pleasure of living.

Yesterday I was caught in that position because I wanted to do a video on “Gratitude of a Recovering Perfectionist.” I knew it would be fun and was to be my first official video featuring me. I told myself when I woke up that I WOULD get the video done yesterday.

I looked forward to having fun with a new lighting feature I got as an early Christmas present. What better way to share what I’ve learned about my life as a recovering perfectionist than to create a video I would force myself to complete in one day, no matter how it turned out. What you saw, with very minor editing, would be what you got.

Can you hear a “however” coming? Here it is. HOWEVER, I first had to finish editing the print version of Healing Relationships is an Inside Job, a deadline imposed by my publisher, a job I didn’t think would take very long.

Let’s skip the gory details of searching for errors that seem so obvious when looked at by a reader (like “the this” I found on one of the pages), and so hidden when searched by the author.

Even though I have been selling the ebook for several months, periodically I’ve gone in to to catch a few mistakes here and there. I’ve also decided to restate some concepts in a way that makes them clearer. You can tweak digital forever and a day. Print is print. When it leaves the printer, errors will stay for posterity.

Nevertheless, there comes a time when it is a relief to put a book “to bed.” It’s like the relief of getting the little ones into their pajamas and tucked under the covers; you are through doing anything more for them that day.

So while I didn’t have time yesterday to do the video, I have FINALLY finished the re-editing — at least 99.99% of it. All that remains is getting an opinion on semi-colons and colons, the rules of which are sometimes confusing.

Therefore, on this Monday of Thanksgiving week, I am especially thankful to have the hard copy ready for the printer. Having this finished will stop me from making minor adjustments to the online version.

In any case, after I realized I couldn’t do the video yesterday, I planned to do it today. However (ready for another one?), I  have to get ready to leave for Northern California tomorrow. Since I am trying to follow my own advice about not attempting to do more than I can comfortably fit into the time available, I will keep the video as the last thing I do — which probably means it won’t get it done until we return next Tuesday. Don’t you find that work always seems to expand to fill the time available?

However (here’s the third one), I am reminded of an article I wrote a number of years ago. It offered suggestions for avoiding the pitfalls of taking ourselves too seriously in this season of expanded expectations.

In fact, I’ve decided to upload posts every few days in December to encourage you (and me) to not put self-imposed deadlines on our calendars, deadlines that may not leave us energy for simple holiday pleasures.

Wouldn’t it be great to take our complaints about how things are turning out to a complaint department headed by an angel who listens calmly and then tells us things will be okay if we just calm down?

If I listen carefully, I believe my angel is telling my inner perfectionist that you aren’t going to have a terrible Thanksgiving week because I didn’t meet my deadline for doing the video. I assume you will enjoy the video whenever I get it done. So enjoy the turkey and all the trimmings. For one day go off your diet and be thankful you have enough to eat. There are so many who don’t.

On Thursday I will post a piece about how I give thanks to people I don’t know. Don’t expect you will read it that day, but it will be there when you get around to checking the blog sometime in the future.

Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


5 thoughts on “Perfectionists Feel Pressure of the Holiday Season

  1. Thanks for this timely and insightful blog post. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say.

    The Inner Perfectionist is all too familiar for me. Closely related for me is the injunction to not sleep more than 5 or 6 hours a day. (My body actually needs 8 hours.) Because I want to be more productive. Well, I’ve finally realized that sleeping too little is not helping me get more done. Quite the opposite, in fact. Just as being a perfectionist results in work that’s far less perfect than it would otherwise have been.

    I’m learning not to put so much pressure on myself. That’s something I can definitely learn from my cats! And just in time for the holidays.



    1. It is so easy to get caught in the perfectionist trap and convince ourselves that we are only doing what you “have” to do. Since we are the ones setting the goal, maybe we should take a closer look.
      As far as getting little sleep is concerned, your body will one day complain enough for you to hear.
      Hope my suggestions can help a little this holiday season


  2. You know, being a perfectionist is a matter of your definition of ‘perfect.’ I consider myself a perfectionist, and consider most of what I do ‘perfect,’ but I am naturally arrogant and my definition of ‘perfect’ includes accommodating whatever obstacles occur. I also don’t include time as a factor.
    So, one way to handle a perceived problem with being a ‘perfectionist’ is simply to adjust the definition of the state.


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