Perfectionism: How it’s holding you back and what to do about it
Today on the blog, we hear from Oxfordshire based coach, Lindsey at Start to Thrive, all about perfectionism.
How to learn the characteristics to identify if you are a perfectionist; why it’s unhelpful, how it’s holding you back, and two simple steps to begin to change.
Perfectionism freezes us in inactivity. For although we are continuously hastening on to the next target, we aren’t actually allowing ourselves to evolve anywhere meaningful.
Are you a perfectionist?
- You pursue hugely demanding and perhaps unrealistic standards.
- You avoid things and procrastinate – because why start it if it isn’t going to be completed perfectly?
- You have a fundamental fear of failure.
- You overcheck, often to the point of it being counter productive and ironically it may even impact on your overall performance.
- You are your harshest critic – being insanely tough on yourself.
- You are a professional comparer and likely a reassurance seeker.
- How you view yourself and your own worth is measured in your successes and achievements.
- Always striving – at the expense of other areas in your life and sometimes to the point of exhaustion.
Perfectionists often want to debate how helpful this trait has been for them. They believe that all their major achievements in life are thanks to their perfectionist tendencies. Professional qualifications, promotions, financial security, and their stellar reputation – all thanks to perfectionism. It’s what keeps them focussed, motivated and consistently being, well, excellent, right?
It’s unsurprising; we are continuously rewarded for perfectionism. But we have spent so much extra effort to complete something, terrified of messing up; is the praise a fair reflection of our work?
So where is your perfectionism keeping you? Because I couldn’t identify the perfect next thing, the perfect career move, the perfect training course, the perfect purpose, the perfect company – basically the perfect solution; I changed nothing.
It’s tough, but if where you are isn’t doing it for you anymore, then you do need to change something… anything.
Here’s two simple steps to start:
- Try delegating. I know, perfectionists like to be in control – if you are doing something, you at least know it will be done right. But by asking others to complete something, you are giving them a new opportunity to learn and develop, if you are a leader, it’s a vital skill in trust to be practicing.
- Test your theories. You believe less time equals poorer results? Test it – spend half your planned time and measure the feedback. Wait to respond to correspondence, measure the reception.
Behavioural change takes a lot of practice and reinforcement, it’s not the easy road to choose. But perfectionism is exhausting and it’s rarely a joyous place – choose to try something else.
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