5 Practices To Help You Overcome Perfectionism

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Perfection. You expect that from your team, but most of all, you expect it from yourself. Perfectionism can be healthy since you aim for better performance when you set high standards. However, research shows that perfectionism is also linked to mental and physical burnout. When you set the bar so high that you don’t have any chances to achieve it, you’re not going to get any better at what you do. On the contrary, you’re driving yourself towards a state of constant dissatisfaction.

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Perfectionism cannot be achieved. You’re making it hard for your team to live up to your expectations. Your demands can make your coworkers so nervous that their jobs will become more stressful. As a leader, that’s the last thing you need.

There are ways to deal with your inner need for perfectionism. We suggest 5 practices that will help you become more ‘forgiving’ to yourself and the team that supports you.

1. Good enough is good enough.

Do you believe that everything you and other people do under your instructions has to be perfect? That’s the kind of bad perfectionism you need to learn how to control. Of course, it’s great to do the best job you can, but it’s time to get realistic: that’s not always possible.

If you lean towards perfectionism on a particular task, you will neglect many other tasks on your schedule. In other words, you are killing your productivity. When you are responsible for multiple tasks, focus on achieving a performance that’s good enough. When you finish everything on time, work on improvements with any extra time you may have.

2. Shift your attention: it’s the process that matters.

When you’re a perfectionist, you’re constantly focused on the result. Here’s some news for you: that’s the attitude that’s making you stressed out all the time. Focus on the process and not the outcome. When you stick to a schedule and achieve all progressive tasks on time, the results won’t fail you.

3. Accept that people make mistakes.

The mere fact that you are a human imposes a realization: you cannot be perfect. People make mistakes; they are part of human nature. You need to understand that everyone comes with their individual strengths and weaknesses. When you notice that someone makes a mistake, choose to focus on the good things they achieved, and find a way to fix the situation.

The same goes for you. When you don’t achieve perfect results, don’t focus on the failure. Pay attention to the good things you achieved throughout the process. As for the mistakes, accept and fix them. Then, move on.

4. Don’t judge too soon.

All growth (regardless whether we’re talking about professional, personal, or project growth) comes through progress. When you notice that you or someone from your team made a mistake, don’t immediately get upset and think that it will ruin the whole result. Be patient. Think of a solution, work towards it, and focus not on the mistakes or result, but on the growth.

5. Failure is okay when you learn from it.

Sometimes you won’t be able to fix the mistakes right away. Sometimes you won’t even notice them, but they will still ruin the final result. Sometimes you’ll fail. And that’s okay.

Thomas Edison ‘failed’ many times before he found solutions. Do you know what he said when a friend of his asked how he felt about doing so much work and not getting any results? “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

That’s the kind of perfectionism that’s healthy for you. The perfectionism focused on progress, growth, and recognition. If you fail, analyze the mistakes you and your team made. Think: what can you do differently? How can you improve the situation?

There are good and bad sides of perfectionism. Your understanding of the goals and the process is what makes the difference. As a leader, you have a responsibility to stay grounded even when you’re aiming high.

Tell us in the comments, do YOU struggle with perfectionism? How do you overcome?


Brenda Savoie is a productivity coach, a grammar tutor master, and desperate dreamer. She's currently writing her first romantic novel and seeking contentment through mindfulness.

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