Why Perfectionism May Not Be So Perfect
Are you a "Type A" personality with little patience for mindless mistakes and mediocrity? Sure, an A+ performance and a job well-done is something to be proud of, but is too much of a good thing simply too much?
Perfectionism can be a blessing. Nobody wants a so-so surgeon or a repairman with a "screw loose." But most people may fare better if they leave their perfectionism at the door and learn to embrace a mentality that accepts that not everything will be 100 percent 100 percent of the time.
These three reasons explain why perfectionism may not be so perfect after all. You can still get the job done well – even spectacularly – without the weight of perfectionism crushing down.
The Pressure Can Be Prohibitive
Billy Joel sings, "You have to learn to pace yourself/Pressure/You're just like everybody else/Pressure…" You know what is a major cause of pressure? Perfectionism. The stress you put yourself under may make your goals too great to bear.
As Utica College describes, "You are constantly busting your butt to live up to that impossible standard and feel mortified when somebody realizes that you are, in fact, imperfect like everyone else."
The Nest notes how stress can be stifling, "Perfectionism creates stress, because realistically creating a perfect product demands perfect conditions. These conditions won't always be present in the workplace. Distractions, sudden interruptions, and unexpected new developments will constantly shift production and change your day."
The pressure of striving for "perfect" can be a pitfall. Loosening up can be a lifesaver.
It Can Lead to Procrastination
There's no time like the present thumbor.forbes.com
Procrastination may seem like the last thing that coexists with perfectionism, but the drive to be the best can lend itself to setbacks and stagnation. AsMy Body + Soul points out, "Unhealthy perfectionism can turn people into procrastinators or avoiders. They take longer to do a task and won't just give things a go."
Career Addictnotes, "Perfectionists usually have a specific way of doing things which they deem as the best. They assume that they know everything and are therefore unwilling to embrace input from other people. This denies them the opportunity of being exposed to new situations and ideas they would have learned from."
Personal Excellence explains why this correlation is common, "When it's time to get to work, they (procrastinators) become extremely detail oriented, start to obsess about every single thing, get weighed down by every problem, and get caught up by the need to create everything perfectly. Over time, such intricate attention becomes too painful, and this subsequently leads to procrastination — putting off a task to get some relief, but is in actual fact pushing away the pain that they create with each task."
There is nothing perfect about missing deadlines or pulling "all-nighters."
Your Well-Being Can Suffer
No pain, no gain?reginaboyd.com
Be it mental or physical (or a combination of the two), perfectionism can lead to problems, and one's health can be at risk. Emotionally, "[perfectionists] want to achieve precision in everything, yet this precision creates great unhappiness for themselves," notes Personal Excellence. "In the end, they build this cave of misery that they suffer in each day." Career Addict adds, "Perfectionists are usually workaholics who will not stop until they achieve the result they desire. They constantly sacrifice recreation, food and sleep for the sake of work."
As per BBC Future, "The drawback of perfectionism isn't just that it holds you back from being your most successful, productive self. Perfectionistic tendencies have been linked to a laundry list of clinical issues: depression and anxiety (even in children), self-harm, social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, hoarding, chronic headaches, and, most damning of all, even early mortality and suicide."
You are stretched too thin, exhausted, and ultimately, unsatisfied.
Wanting to do well and needing to be unrealistically perfect are far from the same thing. Seeking excellence is super, as long as suffering needlessly isn't part of the program. Nobody is perfect, so be the best you can be, work hard, learn, grow, and keep at it. Success is attainable, and perfectionism isn't always the path to get there.