How Perfectionist Enneagram Type 1s Can Learn to Be More Flexible

Type 1 Enneagram personality types are called perfectionists for a reason. Driven and dedicated, they’re motivated by a sense of justice and ‘goodness’ that often manifests in a fastidious nature. This can be frustrating both internally and to those around them. 

Because they hold themselves to such high standards, Type 1 personalities can become frustrated and impatient easily. They tend to see the more relaxed approach that other personalities prefer as laziness or lack of care—and that kind of attitude doesn’t exactly grease the wheels of teamwork. 

That’s why it’s essential for Type 1s to find balance between working hard and letting events run their course. Here are a few ways that the Perfectionist personality can do just that. 

To improve things, first you must change them

Enneagram Type 1 personalities are dedicated to improving the world around them. They fight against perceived injustices and are always advocating for fairness. But in order for things to improve, they need to change. That can be a difficult adjustment for Type 1 personalities, who like to be in control.

Part of being justice-driven means accepting that change is an essential step to achieving your goals, and change requires a certain amount of flexibility. You won’t be able to control everything all the time and that’s okay. Sometimes, when matters are in flux and you don’t feel totally in control, it means that good things are about to happen. Remember this, as it can help put the situation into context. 

Break up your to-do list

You’ve got a lot to do, Type 1, and all of it is admirably rooted in your goal of creating a better world. But if these goals are too lofty or ambitious, you can fall short of the mark. Falling short of your own standards is frustrating and disheartening for you, and can put you in a mental space that keeps you from achieving what you’ve set out to do.

Breaking up your to-do list into smaller, more achievable goals—whether that’s for the day, the week, or even the year—means you have more room to breathe. Your whole plan doesn’t crumble if only a small part of it doesn’t work perfectly the first time around. Over time, you’ll feel more comfortable editing and changing your smaller goals to fit what you can actually do in the time you have. That’s when the flexibility to adapt will begin to come naturally.

Allow others in

Type 1 personalities are driven by a mission and when they achieve their goals, they can make a true difference in the world. These long-term plans can sometimes cause tunnel vision, however, and can make it hard for Type 1s to connect with others, despite their goals of justice and fairness. Most Type 1s are familiar with carrying a sense of isolation and loneliness. That’s why it’s essential to allow yourself to be vulnerable and let others in. 

Opening up doesn’t come easy. Type 1s want to be above reproach and don’t enjoy putting themselves in situations where they might be considered weak or wrong. But there are many benefits to engaging with others, both for your own self and for your greater goals. Listening to others can help you see the world differently and to find a measure of peace in the uncertain. This is essential to being flexible and open to new ideas.

Channel your frustration

Type 1s want to see results. When others approach a job with a more casual attitude, it can become very frustrating to them. Type 1s can even lose their cool completely when others are causing projects to move at a snail’s pace. 

Obviously, you know that not everyone thinks and works like you do—and that’s a good thing. But there’s still some frustration that you need to channel in a constructive way. That might mean doing something physical, like sports or exercise, to keep yourself calm and focused on the bigger goals. Or maybe it means that you reorient and put your energy into a new project for a while.  

Remember to take a break

You’re no good to the world around you if you’re totally burned out all the time. The need to be perfect and exact can be exhausting, and burnout can cause you to make silly mistakes. This puts you right back into an inflexible space where you’re doubling down on your work effort to try and make things right again. It’s a vicious circle.  

To achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself, you have to listen to your own needs too. That means stepping away from work and clearing your mind on occasion. Have you stopped working long enough to spend time with loved ones? Have you even taken a break for dinner? When you take time away from projects and passions, you can come back with new vision, patience, and excitement to start anew.

Value the progress you have made

Type 1 personalities are always thinking about what they can do next—and that’s amazing. They help to keep society evolving and growing, and every teacher and advocate among us is essential to the betterment of our world. But it’s important to take a moment and appreciate exactly how far you’ve come. With the struggles we all face, it can feel like an uphill battle to really make concrete change. But you do every day in big and small ways, and that’s worth celebrating.

Yes, you thrive from having goals and plans, and it’s smart to keep shooting for something bigger, but don’t lose sight of the progress you’ve made so far. There’s no shame in being inspired by and proud of yourself!

RubyRaeScalera

Ruby Scalera recently graduated Emerson College and has since reported on a wide variety of topics from the Equal Rights Amendment to the history of the romance novel. In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a 14th-century castle in the Netherlands. She currently resides in Nashville.

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