Do you find yourself wanting to make everything you do perfectly? Are you constantly overtasking yourself because you want to achieve perfection every time? Then you most likely are a perfectionist. While being a high-achiever is great, being a perfectionist comes with a lot of disadvantages. This is why we have written this article to teach you how to not be a perfectionist.
To learn all that we have to share with you, we suggest that you stick with us to the end.
Let us begin by explaining who a perfectionist is…
Who is A Perfectionist – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
A perfectionist is anyone that believes that everything they do has to be perfect and free of mistakes and errors.
Perfectionists are typically overachievers.
They go through so much trouble to ensure that everything they do is without errors.
Perfectionists often deliver exceptional results but this is usually at a cost.
Because of how focused they are on doing things perfectly, they end up pushing themselves more than they should.
Being a perfectionist often looks glamourous from the surface.
People even tend to envy perfectionists because of how detailed and motivated they appear.
But no one likes being a perfectionist because of how mentally draining it is.
As a perfectionist, you most likely draw your motivation from fear of failing or making mistakes.
Whenever you fail at something or make an error, you may start to feel unworthy.
This can have a huge impact on your self-confidence.
Perfectionists are always working toward perfection.
To them, any form of imperfection is not acceptable.
Therefore, people may find it difficult working with/for them.
Perfectionists do not just overtask themselves, but they are always pushing those around them to attain the same often unrealistic standards that they have set for themselves.
Signs That You are A Perfectionist – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Some people exhibit perfectionism in some aspects of life, while they aren’t in other aspects.
For instance, as a business owner, you might be a perfectionist at work but not in your home life.
But if you strive to do things perfectly in every aspect of your life, then you most likely are a round-the-clock perfectionist.
But, it doesn’t matter whether you are a perfectionist in all or just specific areas of your life.
You can always spot perfectionism at any time.
The following are some of the clear signs you’d exhibit if you are a perfectionist.
- Do not feel a task is complete unless the task is perfect.
- Believe that the result or end product is the most important part of any task.
- Do not start something unless you feel you can flawlessly do it; you procrastinate.
- Spend more time than others on the same job and end up finishing last.
You should note that being a high-achiever is not the same as being a perfectionist.
A high-achiever is someone with a drive for success; their need to succeed drives them and motivates them to do better.
Whereas, a perfectionist is motivated by fear; the fear of not doing enough, of failing.
Both of them may look alike from the surface.
However, the former is good and healthy, while the latter is somewhat self-destructive.
As a business owner or leader, you should always be a visionary, and a high-achiever if you want to get things done.
But you should not be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism Types – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Perfectionism is what perfectionists are guilty of.
It is that belief that everything should be done free of mistakes or errors.
There are different types (precisely three) of perfectionism.
There are similarities between these types, however, each type has some major differences that distinguish it from the others.
Knowing the various perfectionism types will help you figure out which type you have.
This would help you focus your attention on your peculiar issues as you try to resolve this issue.
Below we will take a look at these types individually to better understand their differences.
This kind of perfectionism may make you feel like your aspirations are unattainable; like you’d never reach your goals.
You might feel intimidated by your goals and aspirations.
This typically will stir a feeling of hopelessness within you.
Due to this, you may feel certain issues such as self-condemnation, stress, and anxiety disorders.
Personal Standards – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
This kind of perfectionism is often considered healthy.
Yes, you may have some very high personal standards and goals, but these are only a source of motivation for you.
Because they motivate you rather than intimidate you, the chances of you getting stressed over them are relatively low.
Your struggle for perfection may not stress you enough to cause self-harm.
This, however, doesn’t mean this kind of perfectionism cannot be harmful too.
It simply means that the chances of you hurting yourself are relatively lower.
People around you most likely will see your standards as being too high.
However, this is often just another source of motivation for you.
Socially Prescribed – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
For this kind of perfectionism, an external force is usually what demands perfection.
For instance, the kind of business you do might require nothing short of perfection.
The chances of experiencing issues like hopelessness or stress are relatively higher with this form of perfectionism.
Disadvantages of Being a Perfectionist – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Being a perfectionist may have a few advantages.
However, the disadvantages it comes with are so many that they far outweigh whatever benefits it has.
Knowing these disadvantages would help strengthen your resolve to stop being a perfectionist.
This is why we have listed some of these disadvantages below.
Procrastination is one of the biggest disadvantages of being a perfectionist.
As we said earlier, a sign of perfectionism is procrastination.
Perfectionists typically can’t start a job or project until they are convinced that the time is right to do so.
You most likely find yourself putting off doing something because you feel you might not do it flawlessly if you start doing it then.
So, you keep procrastinating; waiting till you have the right solution or till the context or time is right.
Your mind might paint the task to be more difficult than it is in actuality.
Sometimes, you might make the job look impossible and then end up not doing it at all.
Stagnation – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Ironically, perfectionism often leads to stagnation; how?
Well, perfectionists tend to assume their way is the best, and that they know it all.
Because of this, they do not like to receive input from others.
For instance, you have a project you are working on.
As a leader, someone under your leadership might have a better idea of how to go about the project.
But because you are a perfectionist and you think your way is the best, you end up ignoring the person’s idea.
However, giving a listening ear to the person’s idea would have given you more knowledge about how to carry out the project.
This is why perfectionists are sometimes stagnant.
Since they are fixed in their ways, they deny themselves the chance of learning new ideas or experiencing new situations.
Workaholism is another trait most perfectionists have.
You most likely overtask yourself to your breaking point because you want everything to be perfect.
While working, you might forgo important things like sleep and food.
The bad thing about this is you’d get yourself so stressed out that your health might be significantly affected.
And it is not just your physical health that will be affected, your mental health will also be affected.
The following are some of the health implications that perfectionism can cause:
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Reduced Productivity – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Details are everything to a perfectionist, and they often spend too much time focusing on every detail.
They would spend so much valuable time even on the most insignificant detail.
This often results in them spending a lot of time on just one project.
For instance, you could end up spending a month on a project that should have taken you nothing more than 2 weeks.
Bad Relationships – How to Not Be a Perfectionist
Because they have very high standards, perfectionists often put pressure on those around them to meet up to these high standards.
As a perfectionist, you may have noticed that your relationships with people are strained.
This is because your rigidity and high standards pushed them away.
If you are a full-time perfectionist, then your relationship with everyone in your life might be poor.
Because of how much time perfectionists spend on even irrelevant details, they are usually short-sighted.
Their concern is more about the end product instead of the process it takes to get there.
For example, as a business owner, your concern may be more about meeting targets.
You might not think too much about developing your employees’ potential to ensure they can meet these targets.
If you are short-sighted, your potential might be limited in a lot of ways.
Tips on How to Not Be A Perfectionist
Now that you know the signs of being a perfectionist, we are certain you have been able to figure out if you are one or not.
If you are, then you know the importance of making sure you let go of this self-destructive tendency.
As much as there are a few benefits to being a perfectionist, the disadvantages attached to it far outweigh the benefits.
Letting go of this tendency isn’t something that would happen overnight.
You will have moments when you find yourself falling into your old habit.
However, if you consciously practice the tips we have shared below, your perfectionism problem would soon be a thing of the past.
1. Know Your Tendencies – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
The first thing you need to do is to know your perfectionist tendencies and thoughts patterns.
You have to take your time and analyze the thoughts you have that make you want to make everything perfect.
You could try writing them down to better understand these thoughts.
Once you have discovered your tendencies and your perfectionism thought patterns, you can now actively work towards not thinking like that again.
2. Start Small
As we have said, overcoming perfectionism is not something that can be done overnight.
It is often better to make the changes bit by bit.
Do not be shy to take baby steps towards overcoming your perfectionism.
Make little changes that you know would challenge your perfectionist mindset.
Evaluate yourself as you make these little changes.
For example, let’s say you have a perfectionist tendency of overthinking every email before you hit send.
Starting small would mean reminding yourself not to spend too much time composing and editing an email.
3. Do Not Dwell on The Negatives – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
You might find yourself dwelling on the negatives because you want everything to turn out perfectly.
Even though the task you are working on is generally great, you might stay stuck on it because of one insignificant flaw.
So, instead of thinking of all the things that are wrong with what you have done, think about the things that are right about it.
Always look out for the positive aspect of everything you do and appreciate yourself for them.
Whenever you aren’t satisfied with a particular aspect of something you have done, look for three or four things that you are satisfied with and appreciate yourself for them.
4. Set Realistic Goals – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
Goals are what motivate people to focus on what they seek to achieve.
So, there is nothing wrong with setting goals.
However, when these goals are unrealistic, you are only setting yourself up for a lot of stress.
Unrealistic goals often result in stress, disappointments, and several other disadvantages of perfectionism.
So, while setting goals, ensure that they are attainable, measurable, and relevant.
5. Understand Consequences
One trait perfectionists have is exaggerating the consequences of their actions.
You might have noticed that you often create the worst-case scenarios in your head when you think about failing at something.
Most times, the consequences you create in your head are so far off from what would happen in reality.
So, rather than creating very high consequences in your head, try to ensure the consequences you picture reflects reality.
6. Make Mistakes – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
You might have made yourself believe that any single mistake you make would result in the worst.
But most times, some mistakes do not even make so much impact.
One way to teach your mind that making mistakes are normal is to deliberately make errors.
When you make mistakes deliberately, then you might see that the impact of the mistake isn’t even near what you thought it would be.
Finding a new hobby can be a great way to deliberately make mistakes.
Let the hobby be something you know you won’t master on your first attempt.
Rather than doing things perfectly, focus on having fun with the hobby, making mistakes at it, and then learning from these mistakes.
7. Try to Stop Procrastinating – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
Since procrastination is a trait of perfectionists, you can tackle your perfectionism tendency by tackling how you procrastinate.
Try to talk yourself out of it whenever you feel the need to put off a job or project because you are waiting for the perfect time.
Remind yourself that the task does not have to be done perfectly on your first attempt.
8. Let Your Employees Handle More Tasks
Because you always want to be in control, you might find yourself handling jobs that others should or can do.
Holding on to tasks when they can be delegated is another thing that can feed your perfectionism.
So, rather than doing this, delegate more tasks to your employees.
This way, you can pay better attention to those things that need your attention the most.
9. Learn to Accept Yourself – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
A lot of perfectionists are the way they are because they see some things in some people and they think these things are shortcomings.
So, they use perfectionism to prevent themselves from having or making these shortcomings.
You might feel this way about some things; due to this, you may have a hard time accepting yourself.
Therefore, you need to learn how to accept everything about yourself.
Try to not be too harsh on yourself.
Learn to appreciate yourself for your abilities, skills, and even imperfections.
10. Try Self-Care – How to Not Be A Perfectionist
Instead of spending all your waking hours trying to achieve perfection, try to care for yourself.
One way to do this is by developing a balance between your work and home life.
What you consider self-care may differ from what someone else considers self-care.
So, analyze yourself and figure out those things that would benefit you.
However, self-care often includes:
- Getting enough rest/sleep
- Creating time for recreational activities and hobbies
- Eating meals you love
11. See A Therapist
Finally, if you still find yourself battling with perfectionism, then therapy might help.
Anxiety is one of the by-products of perfectionism and therapy may help with this.
A therapist can also employ cognitive behavioral therapy to help you reframe your thoughts.
You might be able to unearth the deep reason why you always want everything perfect.
Conclusion on How to Not Be A Perfectionist
Being a perfectionist is not a habit that you can just overcome.
It often takes conscious and deliberate efforts, and it typically won’t happen overnight.
This is why you need to consider all the tips that we have shared in this article and then apply them to your daily life.
Yes, it might take a while for you to overcome perfectionism.
But remember that with the right attitude, it is doable.
So, even though you fall into old habits while you are trying to change, simply correct yourself and keep trying.
It will only be a matter of time before you finally overcome it.
And if you ever feel like giving up, know that we are here, cheering you every step of the way!