Do you ever feel like things are just not good enough, to the point you have a hard time completing tasks?
Maybe you have missed deadlines or you never seem to get major projects done, procrastinating because you know what a huge job it will be to get it “perfect”. Maybe you are finding it hard to delegate as no one else will be able to get it right?
You may have been the kid in elementary school who erased your paper until it was torn, trying to make sure your words and penmanship were perfect.
This trait we call perfectionism isn’t always the great attribute that it sounds like. Sometimes it is an entrepreneur’s or leader’s greatest enemy.
The very qualities that make you an entrepreneur and successful businessperson can sometimes act against you. This can apply to your personal life as well, perfectionism doesn’t tend to exist in just one area. It is important to keep that ambitious drive and attention to detail at a healthy point for your well-being as well as for those around you.
Perfectionism originates in different ways for different people. There is perfectionism that stems from the need to control, which is generally anxiety based. Perfectionism can also arise from low self-esteem and constantly pushing yourself to be “good enough”. You may fear ridicule, perceived failure or criticism.
Perfectionists tend to suffer from anxiety and often have trouble sleeping, worrying and ruminating over the day’s events or what should have happened and what will happen tomorrow. Troublesome interactions may play over and over in your mind, with all of the “what ifs” and “should haves” speeding by. Perfectionists also tend to be the ones developing gastrointestinal difficulties and headaches as well as high blood pressure.
If you think this is you and that perfectionistic traits may be interfering with your happiness and success, here are a few tips to start to bring yourself into a healthier balance. Remember this may be a deeply ingrained pattern and will take a little time to overcome.
- Get your tasks done – for the most part you can add, delete or otherwise alter just about anything later on-keep the forward inertia.
- Remember a small mistake does not define you.
- One mistake is also not likely to cost you your business or job. It may cause a setback but is not usually the crisis it seems at the time. Regroup and try a new path. Use a decision tree to help with important decisions. Invite feedback from others on how to proceed.
- Be careful not to be overly critical with your team and subordinates. They will give up or not even try hard if they feel that all their efforts will be met with harsh criticism. Why try hard if they are going to be criticized anyway?
Perfectionists often believe there is always room for improvement, and although this may be true at times it often has the reverse effect of causing those around you to give up. Learn to give constructive feedback that motivates others.
- Delegate – you may find this difficult, but if you aren’t able to delegate you will slow your success and waste valuable time. Team building and development may be very difficult for you. Perfectionists often have the mindset that they need to do everything themselves to have it done right.
- Observe those around and under you with a new view. Chances are there are several perfectionists within your company. They may be the ones frustrating you daily with an inability to get things done on time or frozen in the analysis stage. Being able to recognize these traits in others can help you to lead them more effectively. Learn to validate their efforts and encourage them to move on.
A Few Tips for At Home
You may find yourself carrying perfectionistic traits into your home life, becoming critical of your spouse and children. You may feel a need to constantly prove yourself to neighbors, colleagues, friends and family.
These traits can be exhausting, time sucking and create needless friction, keeping you from achieving a rewarding work/life balance.
- Don’t do your children’s tasks or homework for them. Remember, if your children never feel successful they will not develop healthy self-esteem and will ultimately depend on others to do things for them. They may become perfectionists themselves. Help them but don’t do it.
- Remember #4 above, don’t be overly critical with your spouse or children. They will give up trying if they feel like nothing is ever good enough, including their very best efforts.
- Delegate chores and work on things together. Make it fun and give constructive feedback. Don’t worry if a spider is left in a corner. Every day with your family is a day to make great memories.
- Set time aside to pay attention to things that are important and that feel good. In an effort to be a “perfect” parent with the “perfect” kids and the “perfect job”, you can cheat yourself out of many pleasurable moments.
This post is not intended to be a treaty in running your business or your life in a haphazard fashion with no attention whatsoever to detail.
Perfectionism does not necessarily need to be completely removed from your personality, just brought into a place where it is not creating stress, health or interpersonal problems. A place where you control it, it doesn’t control you.
Details can be very important and it is recognizing which ones are and which ones are not that is the key to a peaceful and productive existence.
Would you like some coaching in this area? Contact us today to get started.