“Done is better than Perfect.” It distresses to hear when people use the phrase, “I’m a bit of a perfectionist” as a reply to the classic interview question about strengths. Thanks to work in the field of psychology and the writings of popular authors like Brene’ Brown, most of us now realize that the burning need to be perfect all the time can be destructive. While striving for perfection seems to be a laudable goal, in reality, perfectionism gets out of control very quickly and can have some awful results.
3 major ways Perfectionism can be Destructive- Here’s it
- Procrastination: The desire to always be perfect can lead to worry filled procrastination and a life full of unfinished projects. We all know deep inside that it’s impossible to be perfect. This knowledge can lead them to postpone starting or finishing work because we know the end result probably won’t be flawless. In the end, this means nothing actually gets accomplished, while the perfectionist waits for the perfect moment and perfect conditions.
- Detrimental to emotional health: While you are waiting for everything to be just right, perfectionism makes you sick and miserable. Perfectionists tend to have more than their share of anxiety, migraines, depression and chronic pain conditions. Yet, they can be reluctant to seek medical help until their symptoms are unbearable for fear of looking weak or deficient.
- Bad behaviors: It may not make you look weak, but perfectionism can make you look hard, harsh and unforgiving. Perfectionists who try to hold others to their own impossible standards make difficult partners and bosses. They come across as being unreasonable and mean, or completely out of touch with how things function in the real world. Colleagues, friends and family may begin to avoid these nitpickers, and this isolation can further unnerve the perfectionists causing them to become even more committed to their goal of being perfect, sometimes triggering depression and anxiety.
How do you overcome perfectionism problems?
Just hearing “nobody’s perfect” or “we all make mistakes” is not enough to reset the perfectionist’s brain. We already know, on an intellectual level, that mistakes are a normal part of life and absolute perfection is impossible. Yet, that doesn’t change how we feel. Perfection holds the promise of acceptance, respect, and even love in the mind of the perfectionist. It’s going to take more than a slogan to shift this kind of thinking.
You are not alone – Here’s Perfectionism help
Moving away from perfectionism does not mean that we settle for sloppy, sub-standard and poor quality work as the norm. You do not have to give up your (reasonable) high standards. Progress requires trial and error, and the willingness to be wrong. Staying in your safe zone to avoid mistakes is going to severely limit your opportunities. However, totally abandoning any expectation of superior quality work can have the same career stalling impact.
The real effort that results in excellence is still a commendable way to live. The key to recovering from perfectionism problems is to learn to accept mistakes as natural and neutral, then and only then can you advance to learning from them and even valuing their existence.