Please, think for a minute: what’s your greatest aspiration in life? Maybe you want to start running your own business, publish a book, or become fluent in some language?
Have you achieved this goal? Have you even tried to?
If you have just started recalling all the ‘WHYs’ you didn’t try or the loose ends you didn’t manage to tie up , the problem may be… your perfectionism is holding you back.
Sounds surprising, doesn’t it? How is it possible that desire and strenuous efforts toward the best possible outcome can lead to negative results?
Well, it’s actually what perfectionism is all about—either all or nothing. It happens when you see things in black and white only. Your performance is either perfection or total failure. If something went a bit imperfect, it’s a failure. This way of thinking does not account for shades of gray. And this may be a clear answer why you’re not running your business, publishing a book, or speaking in a foreign language yet—you’re seeking perfection. You are your own critic who mocks every attempt to take a chance and decries anything less than flawless as a failure.
Perfectionists vs high achievers
Before we delve further into details, it is important to learn the basics of what perfectionism is and is not. Primarily, let’s understand the difference between a perfectionist and a high achiever. They both aim for an outstanding outcome. However, a high achiever enjoys the whole process before an achievement itself, while a perfectionist is absorbed with the ultimate results and doesn’t really enjoy the journey. Let’s see other major differences between the two personalities:
- fearful of failure and rejection
- seeking other people’s approval
- unable to enjoy the process focusing on the end results
- too rigid
- bristling when criticized
- allow themselves to make mistakes and grow from failure
- enjoys the process itself just as much as the outcome
- are not afraid to bounce back and start again with a new strategy
- are comfortable with constructive criticism
You see? High-achievers take mistakes as a lesson, while perfectionists see them as personal flaws and mentally beat themselves up.
5 ways your perfectionism is holding you back
Perfectionist tends to imagine an excellent version of how things should be done. And when it’s time to get to work, they become extremely obsessed with the idea to make every tiny detail perfect. Over time, such efforts start to seem too painful, and this subsequently leads to procrastination.
Perfectionists also seek to have the perfect conditions before they get to work—they need to have enough time, a special place, XYZ in this place, and only then they feel ready to start. As long as something isn’t there, they won’t feel like starting. They’d put things off again and again until a ‘perfect’ moment comes to do things in a ‘perfect’ way.
Stress is a constant companion of perfectionism since there’s always a conversation in your head pushing you to do something more and better. Research shows that perfectionism contributes significantly to increased stress and risk of burnout, and thus might have a negative impact on your productivity.
An all-or-nothing attitude makes it hard for perfectionists to make decisions. Fearful of making the wrong decision, they often overanalyze and have trouble making decisions and sticking with them. This can also lead to reduced productivity and worse performance.
#4: Difficulty completing tasks
Because perfectionists often have unrealistically high expectations, they often have a sense that tasks or projects are never good enough to be completed. As a result, they keep focusing on minor tasks rather than completing a task or project and moving on.
#5: Difficulty delegating
Oftentimes, perfectionists have trouble delegating. There are two major reasons for that. Firstly, there’s a sense that they ‘should’ do it all. Another is the obsessive idea that nobody can’t complete a task as well as they can. Both of these prejudices get in the way of delegating, which is an important part of increasing your productivity.
The mindset that helps you ditch perfectionism
You’re just a human. And as long as you’re alive, everything is possible.
Take that in for a minute.
Now, here are just a few things to think about:
1. Unless you’re dead, every mistake you make or every trauma you experience is not the end of the world. Do not over-dramatize your failures. You’re just a human. You’re allowed to make mistakes. And as long as you’re alive everything is possible.
2. Every single experience you have is a necessary stage of your growth. Everything you go through develops specific skills, equips you for future responsibilities, and eventually makes you more mature.
3. Trust the timing of things in your life. Believe it or not, but everything happens at the right time.
If you see some perfectionist traits in yourself, don’t despair. Acknowledging that a change may be needed is a very important first step toward ditching a perfectionist mindset and being able to say that ‘not perfect but good enough’ is still a job very well done.
Mistakes, flaws, and experiences don’t make you bad. They make you human.
Allow yourself to make mistakes and be imperfect. It will make your life much easier and richer.
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