(and how to solve it)
If you find yourself working long hours, double and triple checking each task, trying to get things “just right,” you might have a case of perfectionist-itis.
This can be a great thing! Often, perfectionism can be the driving force of a productive employee, parent, homemaker, etc. But while your planner may be pristine, and your house may be spotless, perfectionism can also be a major hindrance to productivity.
Here are some characteristics of a textbook perfectionist, and how to adapt to life’s day to day challenges, overcoming the feeling to do it all.
1. Constantly Searching for Flaws
“The mind can sometimes get conditioned to look for flaws. Gratitude really shifts what our search function is, looking for what we already have, already achieved, or already accomplished.” —Erica Hamilton, PhD
When you approach life with an attitude of gratitude, and shift your focus to what you already have, instead of what you lack, the desire to be perfect slips away. Try meditating or implementing a gratitude practice.
Each morning, name at least 5 things you are grateful for. Say them out loud, and remind yourself that you are blessed, and you are doing your best.
2. Fear of Failure
No one likes to fail. We don’t plan to fail but we know that in life, we’re not always going to succeed. Perfectionists take failure as a measure of self-worth. It can become a reason for obsessing in an effort to never fail. Some perfectionists choose to avoid doing anything new that may raise the risk of failure which becomes limiting and can lead to the very experience they hope to avoid.
One way to combat this fear is to view “failures” as “lessons.” Instead of viewing your mistakes as failures, think of what you have learned. And use those lessons to prevent making those mistakes in the future.
3. Failure to Delegate
When you are overwhelmed, whether it be with an assignment at work, or chores at home, remember that there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it may help you get the job done faster, and even better. When we are overwhelmed with too many tasks, we often make errors because we are rushing to meet deadlines or move to the next task.
Next time you feel overwhelmed, try asking for help. After the initial shock, it may lift a weight off of your shoulders.
At the beginning of the day, consider all you need to do. Make a list if you must. And then take a deep breath and think about what is actually doable that day. Do you have time for everything? Can something wait for tomorrow? Often, perfectionists let “should” get in the way of what they can reasonably accomplish in a day.
Taking a moment to reframe your priorities and give yourself a break can help with mental clarity and productivity in the long run.
Being a perfectionist is a part of who you are. It can be a great tool, as it can spur productivity and impress those around you. However, you must remember not to let perfectionism dictate how you live your life.
Remember all the things you are grateful for, look at failure as a lesson instead of a mistake, ask for help when needed, and set realistic expectations for yourself. These tips should set you up for success and make you the best perfectionist you can be.