Perfectionism is more of a curse than a blessing when it comes to advancing in your career. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to turn it around.
Some folks wear their perfectionism like a badge of honor. There is a definite humble-brag that’s apparent in their tone when they assert, “Oh, I’m such a perfectionist.”
However, leaning into these behaviors and attitudes isn’t really such a good idea. In fact, identifying as a perfectionist can hold you back personally and professionally in some pretty major ways.
So, here are a few tips for getting over perfectionism and for understanding why that’s so important:
1. Know That Perfectionism causes suffering
There’s a big difference between working toward excellence and suffering with perfectionism. Workers who sincerely enjoy what they do and give their work their full effort aren’t necessarily perfectionists. However, people who never feel like what they’ve done is enough probably are. Beating yourself up over every little thing is a mark of perfectionism. And, it isn’t constructive or beneficial to your career.
Perhaps this is why there’s a link between anxiety and depression with perfectionistic tendencies. Knowing that your perfectionism is holding you back professionally, rather than advancing your career, could help you see the trait more clearly. You’ll be better able to work toward turning over a new leaf as a result of this new awareness.
2. Acknowledge your accomplishments
When you finish a task, do you take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the job well done? You don’t need to throw yourself a parade. Recognizing your growth and progress can be done internally and quickly.
It can be as simple as taking just a few minutes to look at what you’ve accomplished and telling yourself “nice job.” Taking these moments, rather than just breezing past them and moving on to your next challenge, helps you to be more motivated and energized. Acknowledging your accomplishments also helps to boost your happiness and confidence. It helps to reduce perfectionism. And, it could do wonders for your career.
3. Understand That Anxiety holds you back
At first glance, it might seem like perfectionism would make a person excellent at their job. Who wouldn’t want to hire an assistant, or a plumber, who wanted to do the job perfectly? Well, it turns out that perfectionists’ anxiety over making mistakes isn’t constructive.
“Wouldn’t it be good if your surgeon, or your lawyer or financial advisor, is a perfectionist,” says Thomas S Greenspon, psychologist and author, speaking with The Cut. “Actually no. Research confirms that the most successful people in any given field are less likely to be perfectionistic, because the anxiety about making mistakes gets in your way.”
4. Face reality
If you’re in the habit of being too hard on yourself, you might not even be aware of just how much you’ve lost touch with the reality of your skills and accomplishments. But, chances are, you have. You must take this crucial step if you really want to move past your perfectionism: you have to get real about your worth, abilities, and accomplishments.
Do some self-reflection and ask yourself to honestly consider the reality of your work as a professional. Think about all you’ve learned over the years. Consider everything you’ve done to help your company advance. Take a good long look at your resume as if you were looking at your friend’s rather than your own. Then, stay grounded in that reality. Even when you’re struggling to learn something new and difficult, you can feel supported, simultaneously, by an awareness of your strengths and capabilities.
5. Rethink the learning process
You might find it a little easier to let go of perfectionistic habits if you can rework the way you think about the learning process itself. Always keep in mind that making mistakes is an important part of this process.
Missteps and failures facilitate growth. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to fear failure. Perfectionists beat themselves up when they do something wrong. Successful professionals learn from their mistakes and simply move forward.
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