Is Being a Perfectionist Holding You Captive?
When asked to confess your weaknesses in a job interview, the generic comical workaround is to say “I’m a perfectionist . I just try too hard at everything I do!”
Being a perfectionist may not seem like a weakness… but it could be holding you back from success.
The problem with perfectionism is that it follows you everywhere. If you are a perfectionist at work, you most likely carry over your perfectionist tendencies to your personal life. Whenever you take on something new, you go at it full-force, and expect the best possible outcome. You hold yourself to unbelievably high standards, and you put in 100% so things get done exactly right.
You’re uptight, you’re anal-retentive, and because of all the stress to succeed… you are most likely burnt out, or well on your way to being so. Here are some tell-tale signs that you are stuck in a perfectionist mindset:
You can’t rest until it’s finished
You’re the kind of person who needs to make sure there are no e-mails in your inbox at the end of each day. You triple check every detail of every project you work on. You take on more than others at the office, and you’re worn out from it all. It is very exhausting putting every ounce of energy into everything that you do. Something’s got to give.
You take your results personally
You tie being a perfectionist to your self-confidence and self-worth. You tell yourself, “I am not an effective manager if my team can’t reach our monthly sales goals” or “If I can’t control my kids, I’m the worst parent in the world” or “If this campaign doesn’t go as planned, I’ll be horribly embarrassed.” By setting the stakes extremely high and focusing on the outcome, you are hinging your happiness solely on your performance results. You don’t stop until you get the equivalent of an A+, then finally pat yourself on the back. While your outcome may turn out perfect, your process is far from it.
You’re not having fun anymore
You’re the type of person who has to win at all costs. You get very annoyed when the other players on your team don’t take the game seriously, or the same way that you do. You are rigid and results-focussed, and you suck the excitement out of your initiatives. When you put a huge amount of pressure on yourself to knock the ball out of the park each and every time, you start to sacrifice your enjoyment, and the enjoyment of those on your team. When you get caught up in the minute details, you can become extremely consumed in your endeavours and completely forget about the benefits, the perks and the exhilaration of it all.
If being a perfectionist is running your life, here are some tips for setting yourself free:
Let Go of The Outcome
Try shifting your focus from the outcome to the process. Ask yourself, “If the outcome didn’t matter, what crazy/creative/out-of-the-box steps might I take?” In an effort to control your outcome, you could be staying on the cautious side and shutting down viable options. If you give yourself the flexibility to experiment, you could discover alternatives that might surprise you. Embrace the learning opportunities, and be okay with all of the bumps along the way.
Start Having Fun
If you want to infuse the fun back into your projects and activities, it pays to ask yourself the following: “What is the reason I started working on this in the first place?” and “What can I do to make this fun?” If the pressure if rising at work, think about the exciting opportunities that are available to you as you embark on your project. If you’re overwhelmed at home, think about what you want to remember when you look back on the experience years later. If your perfectionism is creeping up on you, find the fun in whatever you are doing.
Give Yourself A Break
Resist the urge to obsess over the little things and let go of some of the pressure you have placed upon yourself. Ask yourself, “Is this something I absolutely NEED to invest all of my energy into?” Think about the impact that being a perfectionist is having on your stress and anxiety levels. Could you take the same steps while lightening your self-imposed burden? Give yourself some breathing room to mess up, and treat yourself a little more kindly.
If you’re reeling under the pressure that you have placed on yourself, it’s probably time to release your grip on your results, infuse the fun back into your work and cut yourself some slack. Being a perfectionist will take you far… as long as you tell it who’s boss!