Perfectionism; Its one of those qualities that on the face of it is a strength. Perfectionists are determined to achieve and let nothing stand in their way. They consistently produce high quality results. They demand the best from themselves and expect their team to perform to the same high standard.
But as most perfectionists know to their cost, there is a down side to setting your standards so high. I speak from my own experience, but I also recognize a lot of my clients have this quality, and suffer from it. Perfectionists fear failure, and are intolerant of their own shortcomings, as well as any less than perfect performances by their teams. Paradoxically they also fear success, as the effort they have to put into achieving success can feel unsustainable.
The emotional cost of being a perfectionist can stack up over time, driving down self esteem, building a negative outlook on life, and sometimes feelings of depression. It can be hard to stay motivated to start something new, or to finish a project; it can lead to obsessive behavior, or a compulsion to have a very controlled and regulated lifestyle.
So how do you utilize your perfectionist tendencies, so that you can become a healthily balanced, successful high achiever? Here are a five tips that can help.
1 Review the targets and standards you are setting yourself. Are they achievable, and sustainable? Could you settle for less, but guarantee yourself that you can maintain the standard?
2 Learn to take pleasure in the process of reaching your goals, not only the end goal. Set milestones and allow yourself to take credit for reaching them.
3 Accept disappointment, but don’t despair – find out how to put disappointment behind you. The route to your goal may not be direct, and you may have to take a few turns along the way, but use your determination to keep looking for the right track.
4 When you see you are not moving forward, check that there is not an underlying fear of failure holding you back. See a mistake, whether your own or by someone else, as an opportunity to learn and grow.
5 Understand that constructive feedback is not criticism. Good feedback will always highlight the positive so enjoy accepting the compliments, and value the feedback given.
Do you recognize perfectionist traits in yourself? How have you accentuated the positive side to your perfectionism? Can you add more tips to this list? I would love to hear your views, so feel free to comment on this blog, or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org