Perfectionism can have a positive and negative impact on a person’s performance at work. On the one hand, it can make you to perform at a high level and deliver quality work. However, it can cause unnecessary anxiety and slow you down. But is it achievable to utilise the positives and keep the negatives under control? What are the techniques necessary to master perfectionism and keep it in check?
It is common knowledge that perfectionists are their own worst enemies. If you identify as a perfectionist person, then you realise that you may have the ability to perform at a higher level than others may can.
Unfortunately, perfectionists know that top performance comes at a cost. They are often experiencing immense levels of stress that affect all other areas of their lives.
It must also be stated that most perfectionists also experience burnout, they tend to get so exhausted mentally and emotionally that they do now want to continue in their professional endeavours.
Even though it may have negative effects, perfectionism is part of the human condition. Every person that has ever existed has had the desire to better themselves, in regards to their own capabilities. Derived from that desire does perfectionism spring, but as stated above, it can be toxic. In a 2007 study done on suicide, it has been revealed that more than half of the people who died were described by their friends and family as being ‘perfectionists’.
Canadian researchers Gordon Flett and Paul Hewitt have discovered that there are 3 forms of perfectionism that are scientifically recorded: self-oriented, other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism with the latter being the most damaging of them all. Besides the negative impact on a person’s mental health, perfectionism can affect the body as well. Due to the constant stress and dissatisfaction, it can lead to unimagined chronic conditions, back pain and IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) related problems or it can lead to addictions such as drinking, smoking and substance abuse.
What can you, or other people, do to change this mindset? There are many ways in which perfectionists can fuel their drive and ‘control’ their actions.
1. Realistic personal goals and expectations
Recognise that you are already enough and you don’t have to be perfect to continue making progress towards your goals.
By setting more realistic goals, you will have eliminated excess energy that would go towards reaching the impossible, and have a more balanced personal and professional life.
2. Challenging the inner critic and disperse negative thoughts
Don’t let your motivation be the reason you fail. It’s important to use a rewards system and positive feedback to achieve your goals rather than allowing your inner voice to destroy your emotional wellbeing.
Shut down the negativity, amplify your intuition, and allow positivity to drive you on the road to success.
3. Prioritising self-care
Put on your own gas mask before trying to help the person next to you, as they say on airplanes. Engage in therapy, re-connect with an old hobby, continue reading and meeting friends so that you can take better care of yourself and others.
4. Practicing saying no as often as possible
Perfectionists often struggle with saying no to new opportunities due to their high drive, however, setting healthy boundaries is the very thing that leads to sustainable energy.
Stop taking on extra tasks that aren’t directly related to your work so that you can invest in your own wellbeing and continue working on what truly matters.
5. Time off is not time wasted!
It’s easy to look at relaxation as a waste of time when you’re a perfectionist. However, it’s important to remember that sleeping and engaging in light-hearted activities is a healthy and necessary way of refreshing your motivation.
Practice taking time to relax and recharge your batteries so that you can continue pursuing your dreams.
6. Everything will be done in time
You have what it takes to complete any task in accordance with the deadline. Even if it means pulling an all-nighter, you know that you’ll finish the project and it’ll be good by the time you are done.
It is important to use that knowledge to feel more secure when you get overwhelmed, don’t panic because you have all your past achievements to tell you that you are going to persevere.
7. Take breaks and recharge constantly
Instead of thinking you’ll relax after it’s done, go the extra step and schedule some relaxation. Most likely you’re probably a Type A personality who needs to prioritise self-care otherwise it won’t ever happen.
Imagine what your life would be like if relaxation was part of your endeavours.
The sooner perfectionists can adjust their expectations, the more quickly they will get rid of their headaches and enjoy life in a more meaningful way.
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