Are you striving for perfection?
A perfectionist is defined as a person who will not accept any standards less than perfection.
Perfectionists strive for flawlessness and is associated with excessively and sometimes unnecessarily high standards. This can include perfectionists being highly critical of both themselves and others when those standards are not met.
Delia is a Legal Associate. Her work is always 100% accurate. You have to be when you are a lawyer. There is no room for mistakes. Although her files are error free, she is almost always late for deadlines, causing delays in procedural through put. She also consults frequently with her colleagues on decisions they feel she should take independently, rather than waste their time. This is causing problems with her peers and was mentioned in her performance review as something she needed to work on.
Meghan sets high standards for herself and her reports. When the work of her staff does not meet expectations, she becomes impatient. On two occasions has lost her temper in public. She checks their work rigorously and follows up constantly to make sure they are on track. They are becoming disengaged and she has lost two key members of the team. In their exit interviews they mentioned micro-management and a lack of autonomy.
Jaden is a highly successful CFO. She prides herself on her attention to detail which she needs as an accountant and strategic advisor. She has been told she never has a hair out of place which gives her great pleasure. After the birth of her daughter she dieted and exercised rigorously to reclaim her perfect pre-baby figure. Her husband and friends fear she is developing a body image or eating disorder.
Do you recognise these characteristics of a perfectionist profile?
Be honest and see how many of these boxes you check.
- Your mantra is that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. That does not include making mistakes.
- There are certain ways of doing things . Ways that work and those that don’t work. You like things to be done in a certain way. Anything that doesn’t follow your guidelines is not acceptable and you become uneasy, even agitated when you see what you consider to be corner cutting. This places strain on all your relationships personally and professionally. You are considered difficult, which you think is crazy. You think these people are lazy and sloppy.
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- You have a binary approach. Something is either right or it isn’t. You can’t always rely on reports to get a job done correctly. You check in regularly to make sure.
- You are extremely hard on yourself. If a result is not perfect, or fails to meet expectations, you fret and agonise over it for a long time.
- You feel like a failure if you haven’t met your goals and worry or are self-critical for a long time. You may even struggle to let it go. Ever.
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- Your standards are really high. This can be applied to your appearance, your surroundings, your work. Anything.
- You put off doing things because you worry you don’t have the skills to execute the task perfectly or you need more time to get it right. You are not a fan of the can-do attitude. It needs to be can-do-it-right.
- You are very analytical and detail orientated which means you are able to see the downsides to most things which others sadly miss. You are good at spotting errors in work, sometimes those that are barely perceptible to your co-workers. You are happy to correct them and share this information. Even if they aren’t always appreciative you feel it’s a valuable contribution.
- You are willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve your goals and to make sure something is done correctly. You get up at 0500 to bake brownies for the kids bake-sale, even though you worked until midnight putting the final touches to a presentation.
- If you are unable to meet your goals you feel dissatisfied as if you have failed. You re-double your energy and try even harder. You never give up.
Although wanting to produce top quality work is something that everyone strives for, perfectionism can become counter productive. When we set unrealistic expectations and goals we damage our self-worth. We constantly feel “less than” and set ourselves up to under perform. It damages productivity and relationships, causes stress and even mental health. It extreme cases it can be paralysing and lead to burnout.
If you exhibit too many of these characteristics of a perfectionist profile, then it’s time to get your life on a better track.
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