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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

As a perfectionist, do you spend a lot of time “perfecting” your work so that everything comes out the way you want it to?

I believe many of us are perfectionists in our own right. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward to achieve them. We dedicate copious amounts of attention and time to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting.

Dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us to achieve great results. Yet, there is a hidden flip side to being perfectionists that we may not be aware of. Sure, being a perfectionist and having a keen eye for details help us improve and reach our goals. 

However, as ironic as it might sound, a high level of perfectionism prevents us from being our best as we begin to set unrealistic standards and let the fear of failure hold us back.

Below, we’ll go over some of the reasons why being a perfectionist may not be so perfect and how it can inhibit you from being the best version of yourself.

Why Perfectionism Isn’t So Perfect?

1. Less Efficiency

As a perfectionist, even when you are done with a task, you linger to find new things to improve on. This lingering process starts off as 10 minutes, then extends to 30 minutes, then to an hour, and more. We spend way more time on a task than is actually required.

In order to be truly efficient, we need to strike a balance between the best we could possibly do and the level of “good” a specific project requires. No one will expect perfection from you because it will ultimately be impossible to attain. Do the best you can in a reasonable time frame, and allow yourself to put it into the world.

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2. Less Effectiveness

We do little things because they seem like a “good addition” without consciously thinking about whether they’re really necessary. Sometimes, not only do the additions add no value, but they might even ruin things.

For example, over-cluttering a presentation with unneeded details can make it confusing for listeners. Jam-packing a blog layout with too many add-ons can make it less user friendly. Sometimes, consistency is key, and if you continuously change things, this will become much more difficult.

3. More Procrastination

Our desire to “perfect” everything makes us overcomplicate a project. What’s actually a simple task may get blown out of proportion to the extent that it becomes subconsciously intimidating. This makes us procrastinate on it, waiting for the ever “perfect” moment before we get to it. This “perfect” moment never strikes until it is too late.

Instead of overthinking it, set small objectives if you have a big project ahead of you. This will help you tackle it step-by-step and complete it before the deadline.

If you need help tackling procrastination, check out this article.

4. Missing the Bigger Picture

As a perfectionist, you get so hung up on details that you forget about the bigger picture and the end vision. It’s not uncommon to see better jobs done in pruning the trees than growing the forest.

Take a step back and remind yourself of your end goal. Try setting a timeline to help yourself stick to the work that needs to be done without ruminating on things that could be improved.

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5. Stressing Over Unfounded Problems

We anticipate problems before they crop up, and come up with solutions to address these problems. It becomes an obsession to pre-empt problems. As it turns out, most of these problems either never surface or don’t matter that much.

When Perfectionism Becomes a Problem

The problem isn’t perfectionism specifically. Perfectionism helps us to continuously strive for excellence and become better, so it can really be a good thing.The problem is when setting high standards turns into an obsession, so much so that the perfectionist becomes neurotic over gaining “perfection” and refuses to accept anything less than perfect. In the process, s/he misses the whole point altogether and does damage to their mental health. Such perfectionists can be known as “maladaptive perfectionists.”[1] Maladaptive perfectionists spend so much time setting high expectations and striving for perfection that they increase levels of depression and anxiety. 

Diagram showing how a healthy perfectionist and a maladaptive perfectionist respond to failure.

    The answer isn’t to stop being a perfectionist or high achiever. It’s to be conscious of our perfectionist tendencies and manage them accordingly. We want to be healthy perfectionists who are truly achieving personal excellence, not maladaptive perfectionists who are sabotaging our own personal growth efforts[2].

    How to Be a Healthy Perfectionist

    1. Draw a Line

    We have the 80/20 rule, where 80% of output can be achieved in 20% of time spent. We can spend all our time getting the 100% in, or we can draw the line where we get majority of the output, and start on a new project.

    Obsessing over details is draining and tedious, and it doesn’t help us accomplish much. I used to review a blog post 3-4 times before I published. All the reviewing only amounted to subtle changes in phrasing and the occasional typos. It was extremely ineffective, so now I scan it once or twice and publish it.

    2. Be Conscious of Trade-offs

    When we spend time and energy on something, we deny ourselves the opportunity to spend the same time and energy on something else. There are tons of things we can do, and we need to be aware of the trade-offs involved, so we can better draw a line.

    For example, if some unimportant blog admin work takes an hour, that’s an hour I could spend on content creation or blog promotion. Being conscious of this helps me make a better choice on how to spend my time.

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    3. Get a View of the Big Picture

    What is the end objective? What is the desired output? Is what you are doing leading you to the overall vision?

    As a perfectionist, to make sure my attention is set on the end point, I have a monthly and weekly goal sheet my blog that keeps me on track. Every day, I refer to it to make sure what I’m doing contributes to the weekly goals, and ultimately the monthly goals to keep me on track.

    4. Focus on Big Rocks

    Big rocks are the important, high impact activities. Ask yourself if what you are doing makes any real impact. If not, stop working on it.

    If it’s a small yes, deprioritize, delegate it to someone else, or get it done quickly. Seek out high impact tasks and spend time on them instead. Knowing the big picture helps you know the big rocks that contribute to the end goal.

    5. Set a Time Limit

    Parkinson’s Law

    tells us work will take however long we want it to take. If you give yourself 4 hours, you will finish it in 4 hours. If you give yourself 3 hours, you will finish within 3 hours. If you don’t give yourself any time limit, you will take forever to do it.

    Set the time limit and finish the task by then. There can be a million things you can do to improve it, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

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    6. Be Okay With Mistakes

    Part of the reason why a perfectionist obsesses over their work is because they want it to be mistake-free. However, trying to achieve 100% perfection is highly ineffective. If we’re busy perfecting this thing, we can’t get to other important things.

    Realize that making mistakes is a trade off we have to embrace. The more we open ourselves to making mistakes, the faster we can get down to learning from them, and the quicker we can grow.

    7. Realize Concerns Usually Amount to Nothing

    It’s good to plan and prepare, but there comes a time when we should let things roll and deal with problems as they crop up. Being overly preemptive makes us live in an imaginary future versus in the present.

    This doesn’t mean you don’t care. What it means that most of the things that do crop up can always be controlled on the spot, without worrying about them beforehand.

    8. Take Breaks

    If your productivity is waning, take a break. Resting and coming back to the same thing later on gives you a renewed perspective and fresh focus.

    The Bottom Line

    Perfectionism doesn’t have to be the enemy. If you’re a perfectionist, you can use it to help you be better at what you love to do. However, there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s important to learn strategies to start overcoming perfectionism when it becomes an obsession.

    Instead of doing work perfectly, do your best and move on. This will help you go farther, faster.

    More on Being Your Best

    Featured photo credit: Elsa T. via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

    13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

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    Last Updated on January 12, 2021

    Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It

    Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It

    The one constant thing in our lives is change.

    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future” – John F Kennedy

    We cannot avoid it and the more we resist change the tougher our life becomes. Change as John F Kennedy quoted is a Law of Life. We are surrounded by change and it is the one thing that has the most dramatic impact on our lives. There is no avoiding change as it will find you, challenge you and force you to reconsider how to live your life.

    In this article, we will look into the importance of adapting to change and how you can adjust yourself to an ever-changing life.

    Why Do You Have to Adapt to Change?

    “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” —Jim Rohn

    Change can come into our lives as a result of a crisis, as a result of choice or just by chance. In either situation, we are all faced with having to make a choice – do we make the change or not?

    I believe that it is better to be prepared for change because we have more control over how we react to the change we are having to face in our lives.

    When you are unprepared and resistant to change, then you have no control or choice as to how you want to live your life. You live your life as a reactionary rather than an activator of change.

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    “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” —Lao Tzu

    We cannot avoid the unexpected events (crisis) in our lives, as it is these events that challenge us and force us to step out of our comfort zone. If we ignore or hide away from the challenge of change, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow.

    “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” —Henri Bergson

    Our resilience in life can only grow stronger when we embrace change and manage these challenges in a positive way, rather than hide away and ignore the opportunities that change can bring to our lives.

    There is no escaping the impact that change can bring into in your life. Managing change in life is key to living a life where you are not only surviving but thriving as well.

    5 Strategies for Adapting to Change

    These 5 strategies below are the key steps that will enable you to adapt and successfully manage change in your life.

    1. Changing Your Mindset – Your Power Choice

    “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.— George Bernard Shaw

    We like to live our lives in our comfort zone. Our subconscious likes this because it is the “known”. Embracing change is stepping into the unknown and our subconscious will does not like the “unknown.” so it will resist.

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    Our fear and self-limiting beliefs will kick into action when we are faced with the disruptive consequences of change. There is no escaping the fact that change is a disruptor and it feels uncomfortable and scary. However, it is our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.

    We cannot control the events of change in our life, but we can control how we react to the impact that these events have on our lives.

    “Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” — Graham Brown

    The more you use your power of choice and the more you focus your mindset on positively adapting to change, the more resilient you will be to dealing with impact that change will bring to your life.

    2. Find Meaning In Life

    “Step out of your comfort zone. Comfort zones, where your unrealized dreams are buried, are the enemies of achievement. Leadership begins when you step outside your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett

    Knowing what is important in your life gives you purpose and sets the direction of how you want to live your life. With a sense of purpose and meaning in life, you have clarity and focus and both these elements are essential to you being able to successfully adapt and manage the impact of change in your life.

    Having no purpose or meaning means that you tend to drift in life within the confines of your comfort zone. Purpose and meaning in life gives you the courage to step out of your comfort zone – which is where you will find change and the opportunities it can offer to you.

    3. Let Go of Your Regrets

    The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli

    Regrets have a huge impact on how you respond to change and they hold you back in life. Letting go of your regrets is key to you being able to move forward in life.

    It is the events of change that present opportunities in life, so if are looking back at your past you may miss the opportunities of the present and the future.

    You cannot change what you did or did not do in the past so let it go. The only control you have now is to choose to live in your present and future life.

    A great exercise to deal with regrets in life is to blow up a heap of balloons and on each balloon write a regret. Then, let the balloon go. As the balloon drifts off, out loud say goodbye to that regret.

    Very simple but an effective way of dealing with the pile of regrets that you have collected in your lives.

    4. Write a List of Scary Things to Do – Then Go Do Them

    Change is scary and it is all about stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. Our subconscious needs to get familiar with us stepping out of a comfort zone and doing scary things. In fact we want to train our subconscious into believing that stepping out of our comfort zone and doing scary things is a normal thing for us to do.

    Make a list of scary things that you would like to do but have been too afraid to. Put a plan in place and then go do them. Go have fun, challenge yourself and get yourself use to the feeling of being scared and stepping into the unknown.

    Public speaking is one of the most frightening things for me and for many other people to do. To overcome my fear of public speaking, I joined Toast Masters My first speech I gave was a nightmare. My knees were knocking (didn’t know that was possible – but it is!) and I broke out in a sweat and my voice was a whisper when I started my speech.

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    I got through it and though it wasn’t the greatest speech the exhilaration of actually overcoming my fear was amazing. I kept going and know enjoy public speaking so much that I jump at any opportunity to speak.

    5. Focus on Living a Balanced and Healthy Life

    “To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

    Living a balanced and healthy active life builds our resilience and ability to successfully manage the disruption that change can have on our lives.

    Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health.

    Finding positive ways to deal with the stress and pressure that we face daily is key to our survival on both a physical and emotional level.

    Some healthy lifestyle actions you can use to successfully manage change and disruption in your life are:

    There are many more things you can to do to live a health balanced life. The key is that you commit to activities that enable you to be resilient, optimitic, physically and mentally fit to successful work through the impact that change can bring to your life.

    Final Thoughts

    We all desire to live successful, happy and long lives. To achieve what we all desire we need to be proactive about how we mange the change we face in our lives.

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    Denial and resisting change will only result in you living a miserable life. This is why it is so important to learn how to be adaptable, resilient and bold in life because these 3 things are key to you successfully adapting to the constant impact that change will have on your life.

    More to Help You Adapt Change

    Featured photo credit: diana spatariu via unsplash.com

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