Global Leadership Blog

Overcoming Perfectionism

5 Ways to Beat Perfectionism

A refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

That’s how the dictionary defines perfectionism. At first blush, this description can look like an attribute. Perfectionists do great work. People can count on them and are generally happy with what they accomplish. Having things perfect can bring a great sense of calm.

But there’s a dark side to perfectionism. Perfectionists beat themselves up all the time. They may avoid new experiences and projects for fear of failure. They take on everything in order to make sure its done right, thus leaving no time for themselves, partners, family or friends.

Perfectionists want to have full control over their environments. But, because we are interdependent on other people and the environment, we can’t ever have full control over our situations and careers. We can’t control other people’s reactions, for example, so it’s important to try to let go and do the best that we can. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for failure—a perfectionists’ worst fear.

So how can a perfectionist stop being so perfect? Here are 5 ways:

Practice Pareto’s Principle. That’s the 80/20 rule. Men are especially good at this, many women, on the other hand, think that 100 percent isn’t good enough. Women are often perceived by men as having their head down, striving really hard for perfection. Men interpret that behavior having a lack of attention to building relationships and maintaining visibility that is really important within an organization. For men, they think if they focus 80 percent on the tasks, that leaves 20 percent that they can focus on networking and building relationships which are key to getting promoted and moving ahead. To overcome perfectionism, it’s important to try to embrace the 80/20 rule. Realize that you don’t have to have your inbox cleaned out every day or every to-do completed before you go to bed.

Try something new. Perfectionists want to make sure everything they do is flawless. They think it’s safer to not do something than to try and fail. To overcome this urge, they can set goals for themselves to try something new (small or big) this week, this month, or this year to help move forward. Perfectionists tend to like structure, so this tactic is easy for them to work with.

Act now. Perfectionists can be procrastinators. The fear of doing something wrong causes them to freeze up and do nothing at all. If this happens to you, ask yourself what is making you delay your goals and then develop an action plan to tackle them right away.

Trust your gut. Ever heard of the term “analysis paralysis.” Perfectionists want to have all the information before moving forward. But instead, trust they should trust themselves and their intuition. If you are a perfectionist, have confidence in your decisions and know that if something doesn’t go as planned—you can always adjust.

Write your worries away. Perfectionists worry. And there are few things less productive than worrying. So, worrywarts, write down your worries, and then look at that list a month later. Chances are you’ll be surprised by how many of those worries were never realized. Then, have a laugh.

Perfectionists will do what they can to avoid mistakes and accidents—but without these we wouldn’t have certain innovations, like the microwave. It’s good to want to do your best, but it’s better to take chances and move forward. {TWEET THIS}

Image Credit: 123rf/Alina Pavlova

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication.
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