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By Sharon Jeon
If you are one of the characteristically driven, Type A people who tends to thrive in competitive settings, you are probably also a perfectionist. Whether you're dealing with classwork or job applications, you can never seem to get anything just right—or right enough for you, anyway! Know that life does not exist in absolutes, and sometimes a little imperfection is exactly what you need. Stop trying to color only inside the lines. It's time to let go of the myth of perfection.
Know the cost. Try to figure out what is driving your need to do things “perfectly.” Is your desire to achieve backed by insecurity? Are you using work to compensate for other areas that aren't being fulfilled? All-nighters and library marathons shouldn't be standing in the way of your relationships or your health. If your need for perfection interferes with your quality of life, something is wrong.
Accept your limits. When setting goals, make sure your expectations are manageable. Understand that you can’t be in multiple places at once—we haven't figured out how to clone you just yet! Start by writing down five to eight things you'd like to accomplish on any given day. If you end up postponing your household chores to help a friend with a home renovation project, so be it. No list is set in stone—if you don't get to everything, there is always tomorrow.
Call for backup. Don’t try to shoulder everything alone. Enlisting help is a sign of strength that comes from recognizing your own limits. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to lend a hand in moving furniture or pet-sitting for a day—people generally like to give assistance when asked. On the flip side, you must also learn to say "no" to others on occasion. Mindlessly agreeing to every request that comes our way can leave us with more than we can handle. Think carefully before agreeing to favors—assess how much of a time commitment you can realistically offer. If you are swamped, letting the asker know of your future availability will keep him or her from feeling snubbed.
Pause between activities. By staying in motion and never giving yourself a chance to breathe, you actually make yourself more prone to mistakes. Take a break from multitasking today! Checking your email and texting your friends while eating lunch does not allow you to fully recharge. You want to be mindful and focused, so that you feel more peaceful once you begin again. Give each task - including rest - your undivided attention.
Let it go. Your mental health relies on your ability to accept your flaws. Take comfort in knowing that no one on this earth is perfect. Everyone from supermodels to teachers to poorly paid graduate students contends with the messiness of life. Need an instant reminder? Think of someone who intimidates you. Now, picture her with spaghetti coming out of her nose. Laugh as often as possible, and enjoy the lighter, brighter side of life. Join the club of happily imperfect beings.