Is Perfectionism your Enemy?
So, for the last few weeks of blogs posts I got into a lot of technical topics with you, but for a very good reason. It is good to analyze what we’re doing with our business from time to time so we don’t get stuck in what I like to call a “rinse n’ repeat” mode. So what is perfectionism you ask?
Well besides trying to surpass the scale of 120% on every single thing we do, both professionally and personally, about 30 out of 24 hours a day (you know this is you – well all do it) … the real definition is stated as this:
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high-performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding other’s evaluations.
During a former session with my career coach we got onto the topic of my habits (yikes), one of them which is being highly organized and what we’ll call a “clean freak”. Personally, I tend to thrive and gain great levels of achievement and happiness on being “crazy” organized. Sometimes I go overboard but feel I am doing so to keep my mind occupied from other not so fun events happening in my life. More so in the past, not present. Now it has become habit for me. Of course, perfectionism has its benefits, especially when it comes to work. It motivates over-achievers (like myself) to pursue high standards along with new visions. We are driven to improve and innovate. We are disciplined and detail-oriented; both of which can be critical in professions where there is no margin for error. Such as my career as a Virtual Assistant/Graphic Designer.
From a cultural standpoint, we prize perfectionism. Famous figures such as Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs or even Monica from the classic TV show Friends, are frequently credited with insisting that their teams strive for perfection. But what we don’t usually do is talk about the impact of working with someone who is a “control freak” or the collateral damage it may have to one’s creativity. Problems may arise when perfectionists take things to an unreachable level. They can sometimes set standards that are impossible to meet and then devalue the work that does not meet these impossible standards. This can become a toxic loop. I’ve been in this loop with others and trust me it’s not fun!
In all reality, perfectionism is just a distraction and a justification for procrastination. Some may even say an excuse for never getting anything done. For many people, perfectionism originated from their childhood (as did mine … long story). Research shows that this comes from parental pressure to achieve. In my case it was not having parents who cared enough (or truthfully … at all) about what I was doing. So somewhere along the lines I placed this pressure onto myself as I wanted to be (and do) the opposite of them. Whatever the cause, perfectionists are much less likely to take risks because they are afraid of failing. And taking risks, along with the adaptability to learn from one’s mistakes, are essential characteristics in perfectionism.
All habits, no matter what their form, are truly hard to break. Especially if like this one, it has become part of your daily routine and for a long period of time. But the overall mechanics are easy to put into practice. So, be willing to make mistakes. Even if it’s a lot of them. And even if it’s every single day. Take time to understand that we are all doing it, every single one of us, all the time. We are continuously messing up so we can learn from it then do better next time. I guess overall what I’m trying to say is to stop putting so much pressure on being “perfect” or trying to create perfection when it comes to yourself, your life and your work. It makes everything much harder than it truly should be. And if we believe to be “perfect” then how will we ever learn from the mistakes we’re not making to grow as an individual?
Personally, I would do well to heed this advice. I often spend massive amounts of time trying to get things done “just right”, as I am a terrible perfectionist. Everything must always be double, triple and sometimes even quadruple checked before I can safely approve it, check it off my to-do list or pass it along to a client. I feel it borders on obsessive-compulsion from time to time. But that’s just how I am. I always want to put out the best quality of work no matter what I do.
So, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of good in your life! For your sake, and of those around you.
Because nothing is ever perfect.
And in all reality, it’s probably already amazing, you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself!
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