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Is Being A Perfectionist Killing You?

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People used to call me a perfectionist, it made me feel proud but that’s until I realized that this was the reason, I felt unsatisfied, unhappy and that nothing was ever good enough.

Was being a perfectionist holding me back? Was I my own worst enemy?

Setting up my first business, 20 years ago, I was determined to ensure every aspect was executed to the highest standard. People’s opinion of my organisation and what I delivered was so important to me that I frequently worked day and night to ensure perfection. I wasn’t delegating because I didn’t trust others to do the job to my standard, and I was striving for perfection on projects which would then take longer to reach completion, preventing me from moving onto the next. I had this unrelenting inner voice telling me to work harder and that I could do better.

The result was not only loss of revenue and business but, more importantly, my health and well-being also suffered.

The same benchmark for greatness was also present at home. Things had to be done in a certain way and, if they weren’t, I got frustrated and angry.  This had a massive effect on my relationships because in my partners words, “what’s the point in even trying if nothing I ever do is good enough?”.  My goal to have perfection was now threatening my relationships. I was feeling burnout which was mentally and emotionally draining.

So, finding out that being a perfectionist can contribute to serious health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, fatigue and even early mortality, I decided it was time to learn more and make some changes.

Being a perfectionist isn’t always a bad thing but, something had to change….

On my journey of self-discovery, I learned how to use this behaviour to serve me.  Because let’s be clear, being a perfectionist isn’t always a bad thing. Having high standards, being persistent in the face of adversity, being goal-oriented and having good organizational skills are great traits of successful people, it’s just about focusing these in a healthy manner.   

What are you waiting for to be perfect before you can move towards achieving your goals and success?  This fear of not being “perfect” stops so many people moving forward and leaves them standing on the sidelines even though they have the tools to achieve success!

What actions can we take to stop this holding us back?

Once you’ve acknowledged that this is causing you problems, the next step is to realise where it manifests most.  Once you have discovered this you can begin to manage it. And when you get that lightbulb moment that the reality of not getting things 100% right every single time far outweighs the fear, it is a powerful moment indeed. 

When is everything perfect and ready to go? The answer is now, today! Take imperfect action and get working towards your goals and success! There are times to produce “perfect work” and times people value speed more, and these are the times to remember that it’s ok to produce imperfect work. Understanding the expectation of standards is essential to helping you move forward.

By setting more realistic goals, you will have a more balanced lifestyle. You can have more time for yourself and your hobbies, prioritising your well-being.  Practice taking time to relax and recharge so that you can continue reaching your goals.

Being a perfectionist and being a high performer are often linked, but are they?

Perfectionism is directly associated with performance, positively and negatively. While striving for perfection is positively associated with performance and predicts higher performance beyond people’s general aptitude and previous performance level, concerns on being perfect is consistently negatively associated with performance.

The fear around stepping out imperfectly is the cause of many delays, procrastination, stress and overwhelm. Not to mention the number of could have beens who weren’t because they just couldn’t get it ready for delivery. So setting expectations early is very important. Sounds simple right but if we can set real expectations upfront, then we can have realistic bench marks to target.

Also, remember that your expectations of others are often set to the same level of expectations you have for yourself, but not everyone works like you do! Once you adjust this expectation, you can begin to live a happier life.

Meditation in such a good tool in aiding implementation all of these changes.  It helps gain perspective and manage stress.  It also helps increase self-awareness and your patience and tolerance of others. 

Don’t let perfection stand in your way of your goals or achieving greatness. 

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