While perfectionism is commonly seen as believing you want to be perfect or perhaps the obsession of wanting something to be exactly right, being a perfectionist can manifest in other subtle ways. Here are few questions to ask yourself to find out if you are a perfectionist. Do you:
- Have to check something just one more time, “just in case”?
- Procrastinate with the thought that it isn’t the perfect time to start something?
- Always be the first person to spot a mistake?
The problem is that perfectionism secretly pulls you down. It stirs your doubt and fear, and generally makes progress much slower than it should be or it completely stops you in your tracks. You might not realize just how much it’s been stalling or holding you back from making progress in your life.
Perfectionism is more than pushing yourself to do your best to achieve a goal; it’s a reflection of an inner self mired in anxiety. Perfectionism is born out of uneasiness, concern and doubt rather than a simple basic want to do things well. While some people take mistakes as a lesson but perfectionists see them as personal flaws. They mentally beat themselves up and feel that sense of failure – the same fear of failure that perfectionism stems from.
Another source of perfectionism is the issue of ego. Many people want things to be perfect because they have a mind-set of caring what other people will think of them – that they’ll be judged negatively if something isn’t up to a certain standard. Childhood experiences can also allow perfectionism to evolve in your personality especially if you’ve learnt from a parent or guardian that you somehow can’t be lovable if you’re not perfect. This transcends into your way of thinking throughout work and relationships into adulthood. And of course, the restricted rules during your education years can teach you at a young age that following rules is important and it is to your detriment if you’re to break them in any way or not live up to them.
Many people take comfort in being a perfectionist but it’s a common myth that perfectionism creates perfection. One downside is the time wasted on making something seemingly perfect and actually causes you to become less productive. Spending more time on something can often be an illusion – we think we’re improving something but that time isn’t necessarily quality time and could be hindering your performance.
How to Change Your Perfectionist Mind set
Abandon the “All or Nothing” Mind set
A common mind-set when it comes to perfectionism is either you want to do something well or not at all. But the problem with this is in denying the importance of the process. Achieving greatness comes from the experience and insights gained from this process allowing you the chance to tune and apply these for future success. This inadvertently reduces the chance of failure overall despite what the perfectionist mind may try hard to deny.
Keep in Mind the 80/20
The 80/20 rule is a good one to keep in mind – only 20% of your efforts can amount to 80% of the results. Any more than this isn’t going to make a huge difference plus it gives you that leeway to tune up the details at a later date.
Actively Ask For Positive Feedback
Feedback is every perfectionist’s worst nightmare and while getting both positive and negative feedback is the ideal, this is something a perfectionist would struggle with already being aware of shortcomings and inadequacies. Therefore, asking for positive feedback on a regular basis can help counteract this and get the mind used to a balance of opinion.
Sort Out The “Must Haves” From the “Good To Haves”
Before you start any project, make sure you create a list of the ‘must haves’ and the ‘good to haves’. Make the ‘must haves’ an absolute priority and only include the ‘good to haves’ if time and cost allows.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting unrealistic goals is a definite trait of a perfectionist and ends up causing feelings of inadequacy because they can be hard to achieve. Having goals is a wonderful thing but raising the bar too high can create feelings of unmotivated and lack. So harvest that desire to improve yourself by all means, but not to the point of making yourself feel less.