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Why being a perfectionist won't help your career

It took me three weeks to write this post. Okay, I did not sit and write 8 hours a day. Actually, I did not write at all for days. Why? Because I was waiting for the perfect moment to focus on my piece. Of course, that never came, and, eventually, I said to myself: 'Come on, let's get this done!'. Yes, I tend to be a perfectionist, and I fight against this trait of mine all the time because I know that struggling for perfection will not necessarily help me achieve my goals. Often perfectionism comes from low self-confidence, and it may falsely create a sense of control. It actually puts you in a situation of vulnerability, because when you strive for perfection, you are more exposed to feeling failure and criticism. There is an enormous difference between excellence and perfectionism: according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, excellence means 'extremely good'. So, to get excellent results, you can still allow yourself a margin of error. But perfectionism wants perfection, setting the highest standards, and, (as a study from the University of Kent shows) may result in a waste of energy, stress and anxiety. You may think that being a perfectionist will help you go up the career ladder, but you are wrong. Although aiming to excellence can be a primary quality in the workplace, being a perfectionist may result in extreme procrastination. Setting too high standards makes you focus on details and diverts your attention from the big picture, and when you are in a senior position, your company may not like that. Moreover, working with you can be a nightmare for your co-workers. Those who set high standards for themselves tend to set high standards also for others, but that may limit creativity and innovation. And you have to allow some degree of risk-taking to grow and evolve. Also, a perfectionist avoids delegating a task and ends up taking on all the work on their shoulders, resulting in workaholism and poor work-life balance. The cure?

  • Learn how to delegate. Force yourself to not being controlling. When you struggle to give up control, think of what you would be doing with that time instead.

  • Prioritise. Focus on the important tasks, not only on the urgent ones. Use the 'Eisenhower Box' (view image below) to label your goals ‘Urgent and Important’, 'Important/not Urgent', 'Urgent/Not Important', 'Not Urgent/Not Important'. Of course, start with the Urgent/Important goals. Then, address the Important/Not Urgent ones, because they will become urgent, sooner or later, and then you will be ready to address them efficiently.

  • Be willing to take measured risks.

And last, but not least:

  • Accept yourself as a whole, with your qualities and your flaws.

Perfectionism does not make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate (Maria Shriver)

If you feel that you need extra-help to address your perfectionism, book now a free discovery session!


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