By Marli Naidoo
Perfectionism is one of those qualities that can be positive or negative. On the one hand, it can motivate you to deliver work of outstanding quality. On the other hand, it can cause anxiety and thus hold you back. In such a case, it can result in you being overlooked when it comes to promotion.
Perfectionism has been associated with a wide range of mental disorders, including depression, social anxiety, agoraphobia, anorexia, insomnia, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.
In a study conducted by Andrew P. Hill of the York St John University in Britain, he gave perfectionists and non-perfectionists the same task to perform. What he did not mention, however, was that the task was impossible to complete. Everyone worked hard for a while, but the perfectionists quickly became upset and also gave up sooner.
The ability to persevere, even when things do not go according to plan, is the key to success. Unfortunately, many perfectionists lack this element. Perfectionism does not make you better at your job and it can cause you to get less done.
If you are being held back by your perfectionism, the time has come to make a change. Find out why you are setting such impossible standards for yourself. Does it make you feel better about yourself, do you not want to disappoint anyone, are you scared of making mistakes? Make time before work every day to give yourself the right messages. Tell yourself you are good enough, you are permitted to make mistakes, you can persevere, etc.
Identify the required standard for each task. Is this task one that requires it to be done quickly and fast, or is it one that needs to be customer-ready? It is like choosing a vehicle according to your needs. Are you going to need a bicycle to get there, or is this an occasion that merits a limousine? You cannot judge all tasks by the same yardstick. The amount of time you spend dusting your computer should definitely not be the same as the time you spend preparing a presentation.
Don’t overwork a task. Learn to realise when to stop.
Practice with less important tasks. Challenge yourself to complete the task quickly, and see what happens. Any new habit can be practiced. You will soon realise that not only do you have more time to devote to the important tasks, but also that you are less overworked and that you are actually relieved that you can prioritise better.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/04/how-to-manage-your-perfectionism
May Busch: https://maybusch.com/8-ways-stop-being-perfectionist/