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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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    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.

    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

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    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.

    42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results on Your Goals How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

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    Last Updated on January 12, 2022

    15 Reasons Why Taking Action Is Important For Success

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    15 Reasons Why Taking Action Is Important For Success

    Success is not guaranteed at birth, and work is required to achieve what you desire. As you grow personally and professionally, you should explore these 15 reasons why taking action is important for success so you can reach your dreams.

    However, before jumping in and taking action, it’s essential to understand its three components.

    1. To take action means to do something to get a particular result.[1] Any time you intentionally create movement, it is all because of the desired outcome. Execute your actions to support your dreams and goals.
    2. Action can be hard to take, but that’s only due to the fact of misrepresentation of the possibilities. Do your best not to focus on the outcome. Instead, ask yourself, “What does this make possible?” Even though obstacles and detours will distract you from your desired results, don’t let that be your primary focus. You’re created for more, so be willing to go the extra mile!
    3. Failure to take action can stem from many areas, the main one being the failures that have already occurred. Look at your failures as a lesson learned, so you can be willing to learn even more. Stretching yourself beyond what you can see builds trust within yourself and seizes the opportunity of the present!

    “Failure is only a trial run to the success for the greatest of these, your journey.”—Kristianne Wargo

    If you want to escape the world of mediocrity, you have to embrace the power of taking action. By doing so, you keep moving in the right direction.

    Your journey is no longer dependent on the outcomes or the results. Instead, it empowers you to tread the trail of hope even when all seems hopeless.

    Further, the main result becomes the balance in your life, all based on Newton’s First Law: the state of motion of an object is maintained as long as the object is not acted upon by an unbalanced force.

    You can take all the hits that come your way, good or bad, due to all things resisting changes in their state of motion—they tend to “keep doing what they’re doing.”[2] The only shift that needs to happen comes from you taking action.

    “Action is the foundational key to all success.”—Pablo Picasso

    Taking action seems to be so fundamentally basic that it should not even have to be mentioned. But life can have you turning in circles that you become disengaged with the basics and need a foundational review. Blaze a new trail filled with the discovery of consistent actions and a determined heart.

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    These 15 reasons why taking action is important for success will decrease your confusion while increasing productivity and heightening your purpose for a lifetime.

    1. Action Allows You to Shift or Pivot

    It’s easier to direct a moving vehicle than one that is parked. So, why not keep moving? Your activity encourages what you don’t see to become visible as you go through the intentional motions. Here is where change occurs, releasing what might have been a struggle to that which is natural.

    2. Action Ignites Motivation

    Getting through the stuff when life happens doesn’t come from pity parties but by taking the next step.

    When you constantly fight for encouragement, your emotions are set in overdrive. The focus is unbearable and stifles the opportunities before you. All you feel is what couldn’t be, and you leave all on the table what you couldn’t see.

    Keep your emotions and feelings in check by staying in action.

    “One step at a time leads to miles of greatness!”—Kristianne Wargo

    3. Action Establishes Habits

    The more you do something, the easier it is to keep doing it, whether good or bad. You can’t succeed if you don’t do anything.

    By maintaining the action, you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of hitting your goals without being too detailed and overplaying the plan.

    4. Action Shrinks Failures

    As much as you always want to be successful, failure is inevitable. But by taking action, your failures become less of the everyday cornerstone and more about engaging in firsts and seconds.

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    The only failure is not trying. So, when you try, you cannot fail.

    5. Action Induces Winning

    No one afraid of losing has ever won. How many times does an athlete have to lose before the win? Too many most would say. But actually, it’s just enough to keep the iron in the fire to refine the gifts and talents. It’s in the fire where champions are made.

    6. Action Breeds Better

    Preparation is good. However, it’s easy to get stuck in research and making sure everything is going to play out as planned. But you can get buried in the preparation and forget that to get you moving to the next level, you must be in action.

    Don’t let yourself become trapped in practice trying to get it all perfect first. Action will always make it better.

    “Action is the heartbeat of success.”—Kristianne Wargo

    7. Action Determines What’s Possible

    You cannot eliminate what doesn’t work and establish what does work except through trial and error. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That requires action on your part.

    You have to be ready and willing to test in real-time to understand the complexity of what you are going after. The more action you take, the deeper your possibilities grow.

    8. Actions Create Your “Now”

    There is no need to put off tomorrow what you can do today. Build consistency in doing something with intention, and see how your life changes.

    If you wait for the right time to show up, you will be waiting forever. Take your day into your own hands and create your “now.”

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    9. Action Slows Down Time

    There’s no time like the present. By staying in action, essentially, you slow down your inhibitions and fears from manifesting into more than what they need to be. You get to decide how fast you move by the actions you take in your every day leading to your success.

    10. Action Produces a Result

    How will you know if what you are doing will get you down the lane of success? Trial and error.

    Every step you take produces an outcome, good or bad. So, why shy away from what works. Do it and make the adjustments needed in real-time.

    11. Action Creates a Chain Reaction

    Once you experience the result and determine the validity of how it coincides with your dreams and goals—meaning getting it right—then it directs you to the next step.

    The plan of how you’re going to achieve success continues through the chain reaction. Action is the foundation where consistency is built.

    12. Action Silences Your Inner Critic

    The most significant time spent is with your inner voice.

    If you are in a constant mode of debating whether or not you are worthy, good enough, or qualified, how will you be able to move forward? You’ll be frozen in time. However, staying in action makes the inner voice more of a nuisance yet can be muted by taking the next step.

    13. Action Utilizes Knowledge

    Reading and learning are addicting. But no matter how much you read or learn, nothing will gain success for you unless you take action.

    The thing is that action is not so exciting. In fact, action can be tedious, especially if you don’t get the desired results. Yet, knowledge can lead your action when utilized appropriately. Don’t sit on what you know. Knowledge is power.

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    14. Action Minimizes Risks

    When you are in constant motion, momentum is on your side. What appears as a risk initially fades away more quickly because there is no time to overthink what just happened. The risks exist only to be outnumbered by the actions taken.

    15. Action Builds Trust with Yourself

    Many failures and dreams stop you in your tracks simply because of the lack of trust.

    When you find yourself down and out, and your record reflects losing more than winning, it’s easier to quit and retreat. Yet, if you have confidence in yourself, trust triumphs over what didn’t happen, opening the door for what’s possible.

    The Success Equation for Life

    Knowledge + Action = Success

    Ready your head to make a commitment that nullifies the missing link and establishes success by taking action. Here is where you will celebrate success more often than not. Now, the results and outcomes may not be as expected, but a little suspense never hurt any journey.

    May your heart compound the experiences, including your commitment to taking action and the results of what’s to come. Claim the ultimate success when action meets your everyday.

    “Grow beyond what you see so you can succeed beyond what you desire.”—Kristianne Wargo

    Your journey is a path of many colors. Take a chance to make a change to choose the action that serves your purpose. Cheers to you for taking action and creating success this new season! The best is yet to come. Be present. Be incredible. Be you!

    More Tips to Get You Into Action

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: take action
    [2] The Physics Classroom: Newton’s First Law

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