3 most important things to know

You’ve heard it before: you shouldn’t let perfection get in the way of progress. But you also want to excel at work, and perfection may seem like the best path to progress in your career. But perfection can be an obstacle to moving forward, surprisingly. It is to your advantage to give up the pursuit of perfection and find ways to be excellent without being ideal.

If you’re trying to be perfect, you’re in good company. A study of more than 41,000 people published in Psychological bulletin found that perfectionism has increased over time, partly because of the comparisons people make to each other on social media, and partly because of the competitive environments that colleges and employers increasingly create.

Some aspects of perfectionism – setting high standards and working proactively towards goals can be good for your career – but perfectionism has a significant downside. Being obsessed with making mistakes or letting others down or holding yourself to incredibly high standards can have negative consequences. According to research examining 43 different studies over 20 years by York St. John Universityperfectionism is linked to burnout as well as depression, anxiety, and even mortality.

How perfectionism is holding you back

Part of getting out of the perfectionist trap is understanding how it’s holding you back. Here’s what you need to know. And keep reading to learn how to reduce your perfectionism.

Perfectionism is demotivating

By trying to be perfect, you will end up demotivating yourself. Striving for excellence and surpassing oneself are wonderful motivators, but you will reduce your commitment if you push them too far. With unattainable ideals, you will never feel like you are good enough and you will miss out on the rewards of achievement. When you are depressed or discouraged, it will be difficult for you to devote your energy to your work and you will hinder your own efficiency.

You will go further if you respect your limits and do your best. With this alternative, you’ll be able to invest energy in your responsibilities and relationships, and in return people will feel good about working with you (read: your career will benefit).

Perfectionism alienates you from others

Another downside of perfectionism is the way it alienates you from co-workers. People may not want to work with you because they sense your incredibly high expectations and know they won’t live up to it. Or they’ll want to avoid the overwork or overthinking that becomes your trademark. If you fall into the trap of believing that you are close to perfection, you also run the risk of bullying others who know they are not so perfect. Also, if you avoid admitting your mistakes, you will come across as inauthentic. People won’t trust you because they know your Teflon exterior isn’t the real you.

Of course, you want to be professional and you won’t share your imperfections with everyone, but you will also want to strike the necessary balance where you have the professional courage to express where you need help and where you don’t. not all. understood. This authenticity will deepen relationships and build your credibility.

Perfectionism reduces your efficiency

Another reason perfectionism is a hindrance to your career growth is that it reduces your ability to do brilliant work. If you fail to move forward or can’t do anything, you will limit your ability to contribute to the project or earn accolades for your excellent results. If you can’t admit your mistakes, you won’t be able to know what’s missing or what didn’t work to improve. Striving to do a good job is good for your career, but taken too far, you’ll spin and stagnate trying – in vain – to reach an unrealistic level.

Know when enough is enough and be satisfied with completing a project where you performed well, if not perfectly. Rather than waiting to release your work until it’s perfect, learn about incremental improvement over time and the professional benefits of continuous learning.

How to be less of a perfectionist

So how could you let go of your perfectionist tendencies? Whether you’re a die-hard perfectionist or an over-the-top personality, you can change. Here are some suggestions.

  • Change of opinion. The old adage is true, “Change your thinking, change your life.” Recognize that you limit yourself and seek to think differently, freeing yourself from the pressure of being everything to everyone all the time. Know that you can’t do everything and make sure that everything you do well contributes to the community and to your colleagues. When you realize that you can’t do everything, and you can’t do it perfectly, you actually free yourself up to focus. You can choose what to prioritize and where to invest your energy, rather than scattering yourself so thinly that you won’t feel good about anything.
  • Find a friend. Change is always easier when you go through it with a buddy. Find a trusted colleague who you can compare notes with and who can provide feedback and validate your efforts, as well as challenge you when you get stuck. Check back regularly and share how things are going. Thinking with a friend and feeling known and understood can help you move forward.
  • Be selective. Another way to manage perfection is to assess what is most important to your performance and growth. Some tasks may be less important or less consequential – and you can put less into them – while other tasks require a higher level of effort. Consider the way pilots fly: they use the autopilot for the more mundane aspects of a flight, but they come in handy for more complex maneuvers such as takeoff and landing. You will want to do quality work in all areas, but you can be intentional about which parts of your job require the highest levels of effort.
  • Set deadlines. It’s true that “work expands to fit the time available”, so set deadlines for your projects. Give yourself a timeline for your work, and when you hit the limit, call the result good enough. Strive to do your best and be ready to say something is good enough when it’s time to complete the task.
  • Adopt a mantraa. Sometimes it can be helpful to adopt a saying that will help you stay focused on your goal. Choose something that works for you and use it to reinforce the new behavior you want to adopt. For example, say to yourself, “Finished is better than perfect.” Or, “Don’t confuse excellence with perfection.” Keep them in mind as you seek to change your beliefs and behaviors.

In sum

Excellence is certainly linked to career advancement, but perfection is not. For all sorts of reasons, perfection can limit you, in terms of performance, relationships, happiness and well-being. No human is perfect, but you can reimagine “perfect” as embracing your imperfections. Truly be yourself – own it – your talents and strengths as well as your limitations.

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