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Rather than being a valued trait, it could be getting in your way!
The importance of high standards and hard work should never be underestimated but, on the flip side, striving for absolute excellence in everything you do could actually be counter-productive, inhibiting your chances of success, damaging your health, stifling your business, and even driving colleagues away. Here we explain why aiming for perfection is detrimental to your business, and what you can do about it.
The risks of pursuing perfection
Perfectionists commonly self-sabotage in their relentless attempts to obtain a mistake free performance every time. The fear of any flaw can lead to a person losing sight of the bigger picture, with unrealistic expectations and demanding criteria becoming the norm. This can produce high stress levels – life becomes a fight between you and the pressure you’re putting upon yourself, with little time to relax and recharge. In turn, your physical health will suffer, with sleepless nights, erratic eating patterns and lack of exercise taking their toll.
For entrepreneurs, perfectionism can really get in the way of business development. Spend too much time planning and finessing and you’ll never feel ready to launch the product or seal the deal. By searching for the best choice every time, perfectionists can struggle to make decisions or take action. True perfectionists are risk averse, avoiding challenges due to the fear of failure, leading to missed opportunities to learn from mistakes and move forward. Entrepreneurs need to be flexible; at times they need to adapt their behaviour quickly to respond to a changing business environment so they can be their most innovative and creative – idealist perfectionists struggle to do this. When a perfectionist falls short of their standards, the rumination of what went wrong and why can be felt very deeply and for a long time, possibly leading to a reaction that’s out of proportion to the situation. For colleagues this can be a disaster as they are either judged as harshly or have to cope with emotional fall out of the perfectionist. Ultimately a perfectionist will become exhausted and burn out.
Learn to accept ‘good enough’
Understand you can meet your goals and progress through being ‘good enough’. Setting realistic targets and expectations, which you can meet without being perfect, will help you learn how to achieve your aims without burning out, thereby conserving your energy and giving you more balance. While your inner critic may want to tell you how you could’ve worked harder or longer to do it perfectly, accept and celebrate that you got the task done successfully and move on to the next item on your list.
Perfectionists can think they are effective multitaskers but the reality is a different tale. Multitasking is exhausting, ineffective and stressful. By concentrating on one thing at a time you’ll be more effective and probably more efficient. Set a deadline and stick to it, trusting yourself to get it done in time to a satisfactory level. By working within a time frame, you can avoid hours of rumination and procrastination, especially if you’ve learnt from other experiences and successes. This way you can apply previously used and proven processes rather than endlessly researching new, alternative options.
Being a perfectionist is draining so learn to say no and set healthy boundaries so you can work on what really matters. Take a break to rebalance and recharge – prioritise this in the way you would a new work task and it’ll help you keep every challenge that comes your way in proportion.
This article was originally featured in The Informer, September 2018. To read the full magazine, please click here.