This short video explores what perfectionism is, and how it can damage your career.
Do you ever feel unwilling to submit your work unless it's absolutely perfect?
Do you set goals for yourself that are so high you can't possibly meet them?
Or, do you see every mistake as a huge failure, instead of an important lesson?
If any of this sounds familiar, you might be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism is like an obsession, and it occurs when you have a set of self-defeating thought patterns that push you to try to achieve unrealistic goals. It can lead to stress, unhappiness, low self-esteem, and decreased performance. It can also negatively affect your health, creativity, and working relationships.
There are two types of perfectionism – adaptive perfectionism and maladaptive perfectionism.
Adaptive perfectionists are always trying to build their skills and improve the quality of their work. They're optimistic about what they do, and they really want to perform to the best of their ability. However, they know when they've done a good job. They hit deadlines and they constantly improve the work they do.
Maladaptive perfectionists, on the other hand, are never really satisfied with their achievements. They feel like they're lacking in some way, and that mistakes are unacceptable. Because of this, and because they do so much rework, they can spend a very long time delivering any work at all, meaning they miss deadlines, and disappoint the people who depend on them. Maladaptive perfectionists often experience a fear of failure. They also doubt and criticize themselves.
It's easy to see that maladaptive perfectionism is unproductive and unhealthy. If you approach your work this way, there are several things you can do to challenge these behaviors, and create a healthier outlook.
Start by writing down everything you do that you think needs to be perfect. For instance, do your budget reports have to be perfect? Do your work clothes have to be perfectly pressed? Do you feel like you have to have perfect relationships? To help you make a comprehensive list of your perfectionist tendencies, look at your work, hobbies, habits, and even your goals.
Next, think about each of these areas carefully. Why do you believe a certain thing has to be perfect? What's causing you to feel this way? Write down the beliefs you have about each of these behaviors.
Once you've done this, come up with one specific way you can challenge each behavior. For instance, imagine you spend a lot of time checking and re-checking your work. You could challenge this behavior by resolving to only checking your work twice – once when it's finished, and then, again, a couple of hours later.
It takes time to overcome maladaptive perfectionism. But trying to overcome several areas at once will just make you feel overwhelmed, and increase the chances you’ll give up. Instead, pick one behavior to focus on at a time.
Now, read the article that accompanies this video to find out more about perfectionism.