It’s true; with great responsibility comes the pressure to make sure everything goes smoothly. This is where perfectionism starts and contrary to what you might think, it does more harm than good.
For some people, it is how they were brought up.
-As kids, they were not allowed to make mistakes at home or in school and so they grew up always wanting to make sure everything goes right and feel bad if they make any mistake.
They always want to avoid doing shabby work for fear of what others would say about the quality of the work.
Some others (most entrepreneurs fall into this category) are those who become perfectionists as they grow older.
They set goals, reach these goals, and start to set bigger ones and with every bigger goal that is set, they always feel pressure to make sure that the work is done incredibly well & beats their previous records.
Some people are okay with having this trait they wear it like a badge and sound very proud of it.
“I’m a perfectionist”, “the perfectionist in me won’t let me do this” and blah-blah.
What all these people have in common though, is that they want everything to be perfect and go according to plan and if it doesn’t, they start to feel all sorts of negative emotions for different reasons –
What people would think/say about their work or how it would affect the way people see or think of them.
But halt right there…
What exactly is perfectionism though?
Perfectionism is a personality type that believes that perfection is attainable and strives to achieve this perfection and flawlessness.
Perfectionists set impossibly high standards for themselves. They think that whatever they do is never good enough.
For a creator, there are 3 stages of work where perfectionism can rear its ugly head and they are:
1. Before You Get to Work:
You have this perfect idea in your head and you have a hard time recreating this idea in reality just the way it was in your head.
2. While You’re at Work:
You probably escaped stage one. You’re already making the idea in your head a realistic one but while you’re doing this, you’re starting to feel like the idea is not as great as you thought it was and so you’re stuck there.
3. When You’re Done Working:
You successfully skipped the first two stages. You’re done with your work, but you’re seeing way too many errors and issues with it and you either trash the idea or put it on hold until it suits your taste.
Causes and Effect of This Trait?
Wanting to always make sure everything goes perfect can cause more harm than good. From all the scenarios we’ve been painting here and there, you can see that:
Perfectionism can make you procrastinate on starting/finishing important tasks.
It can put too much pressure on you and this can cause you to have anxiety and mental stress. You can’t produce your best work in this state.
Perfectionism can cause imposter syndrome – it can make you feel like whatever you do is not good enough, and you’ve only gotten to where you are by luck.
Being a perfectionist can cause burnouts too – a state of creative and mental exhaustion. You’ll end up creating substandard work again.
Don’t know what burnouts are? Check this out: Burnouts: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention
Guess how you’d feel when you spend so much time on creating something and it still doesn’t look good enough?
I bet you’d be discouraged. That’s exactly what perfectionism does; It makes adulting hard.
Making life hard for yourself is the last thing you should want to do on this earth.
So, how exactly can you get rid of perfectionism and learn to get work done nicely (and quickly too)?
Picture a dramatic entrance here…
7 Things to Do to Get Rid of Perfectionism.
1. A Mindset Shift.
Yeah, that’s right. It all starts from the mind.
The very first step to getting rid of perfectionism is to ask yourself what the root of perfectionism is for you and start working on changing those ideologies.
Were you never allowed to make mistakes as a child? Then you have to understand that failure is not the end of the road, it’s only a stepping stone to success.
Don’t condemn yourself when you make mistakes. Instead, ask yourself what you can learn from your mistake and do it better next time.
Do you feel extreme pressure to give your very best from those who look up to you?
Don’t overthink it. Don’t be so worried about people’s expectations. The standard you even think they expect is all in your head. Just be focused on giving it your all.
2. On Goal Setting:
First, don’t be too much of a control freak. Understand that it’s okay for things to not go as planned sometimes (because it won’t always go as planned) focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control.
Second, set realistic goals. Setting nearly unreachable standards for yourself and failing to reach them can cause you to lose confidence in yourself and your work.
Thirdly, Don’t compare yourself to the big guys in your industry.
They once sucked at what they do too.
Becoming good at what you do takes time so give yourself time to grow.
Set small goals and celebrate each milestone you cross, no matter how little. It’ll encourage you to do better faster.
3. Work With Deadlines.
The idea of wanting to make sure everything is perfect before you put it out there for everyone else to see will cause you to spend a lot of time making changes to your work. You might never even feel ready enough to put your work out there.
To prevent this from happening, always work with deadlines. If possible, make it known to others for accountability’s sake.
4. Don’t Edit Your First Draft.
(If Your Process Includes Writing)
When you’re trying to get down your ideas from your head, just do it. Just keep writing until you’re sure that it’s complete.
Even when you feel the urge to make a tiny correction or strike out an entire paragraph, don’t do it.
Editing your work when it’s not yet complete will make it harder for you to finish what you’re doing. You’ll end up losing most of your initial ideas, procrastinating on completing the task, and creating substandard finished work.
When you get the urge to make changes to your work while writing, here’s what you do instead: write a word under that sentence or paragraph that reminds you of what you intend to change once you’re done writing.
When you’re done writing, you can finally make the changes you’ve been itching to make. You’ll notice that you spend less time writing the entire piece, and you correct even less stuff too.
5. Imperfection is a Type of Perfection.
That’s crazy yeah? I know.
Whenever you start to feel like your work isn’t good enough, ask yourself “will this be useful to those who I’m creating this for?”
If yes, then that’s all that you need. Your audience doesn’t care about how perfect it is. Sometimes, you’re the only one who even sees these perfections you talk about.
Focus on the usefulness of your product/creation more than its perfection. You’ll be much happier and more satisfied with your work.
6. Engage in Quantity Challenges.
Quantity challenges are a very effective way to improve your skill and combat perfectionism in a very short time.
You can decide to write 100 words every day or design something new every day or create a short video every day, regardless of how perfect it is
-This simple practice would teach you to show up consistently whether your result is good or not. While most of it would be good, you’ll realize that those high standards you set were all in your head.
In case you’re wondering what a quantity challenge is, here’s an example:
7. In Your Pursuit for Excellence, Don’t Avoid Failure – It’s inevitable.
If it sucks, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure – never attach your self-worth to your accomplishments.
Your work cannot be extremely good all the time and that’s fine. With time, it gets better.
Don’t always expect to ace it on the first trial, do it over and over again till it’s useful enough. practice makes perfect.
Go with the flow.
And always remember,
Perfectionism isn’t the way, it’s in the way ~ Unknown