Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? This might be a problem that really affects your work life, especially if you feel like you are never able to reach the standards you have set for yourself. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome your perfectionist mindset and achieve what you want from your job.
Perfectionists often believe a job is only worth doing if it is done flawlessly. However, this ignores the importance of the process. Becoming good at something never comes automatically; it requires experience and, yes, even making mistakes that the individual can learn from as they refine their skills. The best way to reach your goals isn’t just about knowing what works, but having first-hand experience with making decisions that haven’t.
We all obviously want to do the best job possible, but no outcome will ever come out 100% perfect no matter how hard we try. But complete perfection should not be the goal anyway; we should strive to reach the objective, and all we really need is to set the goal at 70%. Once we complete the task with this number in mind, we can go back and fine tune things.
Here is a rule to live by: 80/20. What this means is, if you put in 20% of your efforts, you will achieve 80% results. Any more than this will only have a negligible effect. But, again, you can always go back later and make any necessary improvements.
Perfectionists also tend to be pessimistic about things. However, it is important to embrace all of the good things that happen during the course of the day, even if they don’t seem all that important. Why? Focusing on the positives will change your outlook and it detracts from the negatives. In fact, studies have found that when we accomplish something, we feel more motivated to repeat the process. So how can you put the power of positive thinking into practice? You could, for example, celebrate the fact that you had breakfast this morning rather than skipping out as you often do. Or you met a new hire who seems interesting and will be a great addition to the team.
In order to finish a task, you need to clearly define how much time you’ll give yourself. So, for example, if you decide you’ll give yourself 2 hours, then give yourself 2 hours. On the other hand, if you tell yourself that you’ve got all the time in the world to complete it, you will most certainly take your sweet time at the expense of other tasks that need tending to. There are always ways in which you can improve your work, but you can’t assign an indefinite period of time to a project simply because you feel it’s necessary to achieve perfection.
Although it is good to anticipate problems and prepare for various outcomes, the best strategy is to just let things play out and “cross that bridge” if you get there. By constantly assuming the worst, we end up creating an imaginary future when we should be focusing on the present.
This has nothing to do with not caring about the task at hand; rather, it means we should deal with a situation when it is actually happening rather than wasting our energy on worries that haven’t — and might not — happen.
One of the biggest flaws of perfectionist thinking is setting goals that are nearly impossible to achieve, and then feeling inadequate because they weren’t. For instance, you might decide to set a 6 month goal for publishing a book before you’ve even written down a single word. Although it could hypothetically happen, it most likely won’t and you will therefore feel disappointed.
Although we all want to strive to do our best, if you raise the bar too high, you might feel less motivated at the point in which you realize you won’t achieve what you want.
Perfectionists fear feedback because they’re worried about what they’ll be told. For this reason, being proactive and asking for feedback — especially as it relates to the ways in which you are doing your job well — installs confidence and allows you to maintain the positive traits based on this feedback and improve upon any negative feedback.
Perfectionists aren’t always good at prioritizing ideas because they often feel like all of their ideas deserve immediate and equal attention. But the truth is, if all these ideas were to be thrown in together, it is bound to affect the quality of the work and the project will easily fall behind schedule.
The solution is to compile two lists: the ideas that need to be included and the ideas that would be good to be included. Make the former the priority and only work on the latter if time permits.