Oh, to be a perfectionist!
It is both a blessing, a curse, and a downright inconvenience! Perfectionists often have a desire for consistently flawless actions, efforts, or lifestyles. Sometimes this strive for perfection encourages high quality work and success. However, other times it leads to added pressure and stress. But how do you stop your perfectionism from preventing your progress?
Recognising your perfectionist traits
While you may be aware that you are a perfectionist, it can be helpful to recognise this trait and its effects in action.
It is notably limiting your progress
The benefits of perfectionism are often visible in small sectors of our efforts. For example, you complete one of your assignments to an outstanding level worthy of great praise. But any remaining assignments are either rushed and mediocre at best, or not even started at worst. This unbalanced outcome is often a sign that your strive for perfectionism is hindering your work more than helping it.
It is adding pressure
Every perfectionist is familiar with the pressure that accompanies consistently high performing work. Your ability is placed on a certain pedestal of expectation and one that only ever seems to rise! This pedestal can be from the external expectations of those around you. But it is even more likely that it is an internal influence. As the results from your excessive efforts continue to rise, so too does the bar you set for yourself until it reaches an insurmountable point. Eventually the pressure peaks and often creates significant stress.
Managing your perfectionism
A strive for perfectionism is often to thank for outstanding work, whether it is an academic achievement or a personal pursuit. For this reason, dismissing perfectionism as entirely obstructive is incorrect. But assuming that the outcomes are only positive is equally unhelpful. This is why learning how to manage it is so worthwhile.
Set limits for yourself
We often recognise the damage caused by perfectionism when we see the visibly unproductive impacts on other areas. If you find that your determination to achieve perfection is leaving you with one great result and ten terrible ones, then balance is urgently needed. Set strict time limits on yourself and your work. Force yourself to divide your time and efforts up more evenly across your tasks. Prioritise by urgency and required time as well as deadlines. Don’t be afraid to move on from one area to another even if you do not feel the results are perfect.
Alter your expectations
Perfectionists can be tough on themselves when their work does not reach what they perceive to be accepted heights. But the problem is, if you set the bar too high, not only will you be physically unable to reach it, but you continuously demoralise yourself each time you “fail” to meet that unachievable standard. This does not mean that you need to immediately remove all of your standards. But it is worth evaluating their benefits. Create challenges not obstacles.
Take it easy on yourself
Perfectionists are rarely known for this one either! But, placing constant pressure on yourself can limit your ability to achieve. You may find yourself weighed down by impossibly high standards that exist in your mind as much as they do in your tasks. Reducing your negative self-talk and perceptions can help motivate you to succeed in healthier manners.
Change your perception of failure
Failure. It is an unpleasant word for most people but for a perfectionist it represents everything they feel they have done wrong. Try to challenge this perception by viewing apparent failure as a learning curve not a dead end. How we consider success is connected to how we aim to achieve it. If you find your mindset of failure is negatively linked then check out this article on “giving up” to help you reconsider your views.
Do you find that your perfectionism hinders your progress?