Perfectionism is a bad habit, it shrinks our lifestyle same as any other bad habit like, smoking, addiction, procrastination, etc. would. These habits seek pleasure, whereas the intention of perfectionism is to produce best.
A perfectionist is driven by fear. High achievers are driven by purpose.
“There is a difference between in being a high achiever and being a perfectionist”
In one way perfectionism has a positive side as well, to produce great results we do need it. Which is why perfectionists are categorised in two types that will be discussed below.
When we start to seek perfectionism everyday in every task, we end up procrastinating more. Perfectionism leads to procrastination. Perfectionists have this belief, if something can’t be done perfectly, why even do it.
“Perfectionists are great at planning, but terrible at executing”
Let’s assume an analogy of starting a startup, a perfectionist will keep learning, keep working hard to make things 10/10. And if he couldn’t make things 10/10 (which doesn’t seem to be possible, because there will always be something missing), he will become anxious, desperate, depressed, eventually he’ll quit.
[ Recommended Reading: 6 Ways to Embrace Imperfection ]
Reasons to overcome perfectionism
While learning anything, we must have a strong reason. We will not act on something we don’t see reason to do.
So why do we need to overcome perfectionism?
- Because perfectionism can diminish our self-esteem which will reduce our confidence to go for another try.
- Perfectionism prevents us from enjoying our life and feeling a sense of peace, which leads to extra stress and anxiety.
- Keeping perfectionism will block you from being an efficient learner.
- Sometimes, perfectionism leads to terrible relationships, because a perfectionist will mostly argue over mistakes he makes.
- It doesn’t allow us to live in the present moment. It keeps forcing us to think about what next? (like a cruel boss for yourself..)
Two types of perfectionists
Maladaptive Perfectionists (unhealthy perfectionism)
Perfectionism becomes unhealthy, called maladaptive perfectionism—when there’s an unrealistic attempt at reaching excessively high or impossible goals.
With maladaptive perfectionism, the goals aren’t just high; they’re impossible to achieve. For that reason, failure is often guaranteed. Failure experiences can be very painful to people with maladaptive perfectionism. If they lack the resilience that a healthy perfectionist has, they may respond to setbacks with either goal obsession or goal avoidance.
An example of maladaptive perfectionism: “Feeling a pressure to be the best at everything”.
Know if you are an unhealthy perfectionist?
- Do you push people away in order to avoid rejection?
- Do you feel that something only counts if it’s done perfectly?
- Do you feel that others are too demanding of you?
- Are you highly self-critical?
- Do you find that you are never satisfied with your accomplishments?
Healthy perfectionists are the true achievers; they know principles to success and follow them consciously.
This type of people never worry about what others think of their work, they accept their mistakes and move to correct next time, they are calm and sometimes lazy.
They don’t make unrealistic expectations, they work on priorities and they are proactive.
What makes them differ is their reaction to failures. Unhealthy perfectionists lose their cool and act in unstable thoughts, whereas healthy ones stay calm and accept them, trying to learn something from their failures.
Know if you are healthy perfectionist?
- Strive for high but achievable standards that result in feelings of satisfaction and increased self-esteem.
- Match your time and energy to tasks that match your strengths and interests.
- Have a sense of what you value and what your priorities are and devoting your time and attention to those areas.
- Reaping payoffs from your efforts that are greater than your costs.
7 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism
#1 Break goals into tasks
Perfectionists may become overwhelmed by the size of a goal, such as planning a wedding, studying for college or graduate school exams, or taking on a new work project. Break down big-picture goals into smaller, manageable chunks and celebrate each smaller accomplishment.
#2 Break your negative self-talk
Replace it with a positive self-talk, or try to redirect your thoughts to more constructive thinking. Tell yourself, “It’s okay if this isn’t perfect.”
#3 Become aware of your thoughts
Our thoughts are primary reason for building our beliefs. When we become aware of our thoughts we can divert our beliefs. For eg. Whenever you get thought to do the work perfectly and find it tough, bring your thought back to doing a task, not necessarily perfect.
#4 It’s okay if you make mistake
You have to allow yourself to make mistakes. Because mistakes are the best way to get feedback from yourself about work.
When we accept mistakes we give ourselves opportunity to learn and to get better. Instead of not accepting and remaining miserable.
#5 Set realistic goals
That doesn’t need a brief explanation. You have to create realistic and achievable goals for years, months or days to prevent unneeded pressure.
Setting realistic goals maximises your time and resources, and helps keep you motivated. Make sure your goals are measurable.
#6 Do not procrastinate
We know, perfectionism leads to procrastination, but if we are good at avoiding procrastination we can manage our productivity. After all, perfectionism also prevents our productivity.
#7 Stop comparing yourself to others
One of the biggest traps of perfectionism that continually fuels the fire is social comparison, scrutinizing what others are doing and deciding that you fall short. So you decide to put more mental energy and drive yourself into this trap of perfectionism.
Perfectionism (unhealthy) is like a bad habit (addiction), you keep practicing it without staying aware that it is killing your productivity and consuming a lot of time.
To quit and start a habit we must force it with strong reason. The reason to overcome perfectionism is because it will affect your daily tasks, induce stress and anxiety and make your lifestyle dull.
You have the option to choose your type of perfectionism, maladaptive or healthy.
And Yes, it is possible to overcome perfectionism, after all things its game of practice.