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It is necessary for a working individual to set high standards for themselves as this will encourage them to perform more and bring out more positive outcome and output. Reaching out for excellence is a great way to show your employers and your subordinates that you have a great work ethic and that you like to give your all in whatever you do. High standards and expectations also help you to perform your best irrespective of your conditions. For instance: athletes try to set a high expectation and standard for themselves which helps them to perform better during training and competitions.

How to Overcome Perfectionism

Setting a high standard and perfectionism both are different, though both have the same use and concept. The main difference between these two is that, setting high expectations helps you to achieve goals that are reachable and achievable while perfectionism on the other hand compels the individual to set up expectations that are either impossible to achieve or they are achieved after great difficulty. The main thing about perfectionists is that they try to be perfect in everything that they do and they feel that anything short of their standard is a failure and it can lead to a huge disaster. This can cause a lot of discomfort to others, especially the subordinates and peers that the individual has. Perfectionists are not even ready to accept even the most minor adjustments and tweaks; they want their work to be picture perfect and clean.

There are many ways for recognising the positive and negative outputs of perfectionism and this helps you to act according to the situation.

Here are a few tips and tricks that you could use to help you overcome excessive perfectionism and its downsides:

Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism:

1. Learn to recognize and differentiate perfectionism:

This is the most mandatory step, as this helps you to realise whether or not you are a chronic perfectionist. Keep in mind that there is no wrong in keeping high standards for yourself but make sure that those goals should be reasonable. If they are not reasonable then, it might cause problems and complications in your personal and professional life. Set a reasonable goal so that you can enjoy your life more properly.

If you have trouble in finding the reason why you have trouble with perfectionism, try to ask yourself a few questions about yourself. These questions include:

  • Are you finding it hard and troublesome in achieving your own standards?
  • Are you feeling angry and frustrated while you are trying to reach your goal?
  • Do you also have anxiety attacks and panic when you are trying to achieve something?
  • Have you been ever told by your colleagues or peers that the standards that you set are too high and impossible, even for yourself?
  • Do the standards that I set, get in my personal and professional life?
  • Does my need for achievement make me feel less considerate about others?
  • Do I have difficulty in believing and trusting others while doing a task together?
  • Do you have any difficulties in completing the work and meeting the deadlines because of the high standards that you have set for yourself?
  • Do you have a hard time trying to enjoy things that you love to do because of your high standards and expectations?

If you have answered most of the above mentioned questions with a “yes”, then chances are that you might be suffering from excessive perfectionism. This is because perfectionism can have a toll on a person’s life, be it in their mannerisms, personality and their behaviour towards others.

To help you understand perfectionism a bit better, here are a few examples of perfectionist thinking that many individuals can have during their lifetime.

Examples:

Black and white thinking:

They only think about two aspects about the situation. They only think about the failure and success.
Catastrophic thinking:

This initiates a thinking that, if they are not able to meet the set standards, a disaster will occur in their career.

Overestimating:

These people tend to think too much about an issue and thus making themselves more tensed about the situation.

Should statements:

These people think about factors which are adamant and hard to accomplish. For example:” I should complete this by tomorrow”; “I should always try to be perfect “and so on.

2. Change the perfectionist attitude:

There are many ways in which one could change their attitude towards perfectionism. One of the most common methods is to change the way you think about tasks that have been assigned to you. Here are a few methods that you can follow so as to control your perfectionist urges.

a. Think realistically:

  • Most working individuals always try to criticise themselves too much because of the goals and standards set by them. To avoid being controlled by perfectionism one of the best ways that one can follow is to avoid setting practically impossible standards and try to think realistically about various situations.
  • Try to use helpful and encouraging statements that can help you to ease the tension that one face while completing a task. At first, one might not believe these statements, but always try to relate them so that they can be helpful to you in the long run. Repeating encouraging and positive thoughts also helps you to drive away negative thinking within a person.

Examples of few encouraging sentences that you could use:

1. It is okay to be imperfect
2. Everybody makes mistakes
3. Nobody is born perfect
4. It is okay to not be perfect at all times.
5. It is okay that if I am disliked by some. Nobody can satisfy everyone.

By repeating such statements while you work, helps you to develop yourself more as an optimist rather than a pessimistic perfectionist. The key lies in mind control and how well you adapt to these statements.

b. Seeing in another person’s perspective:

Another character trait that many perfectionists have is that they fail to see circumstances from others perspective. This is the main reason why many people dislike perfectionists and refuse to work with them. They are too self-centred and they only try to think about themselves instead of thinking about the welfare of others.

Here are a few tips that can help you to condition your mind to think about various situations through another person’s view.

If you are presented with a situation, try to think how other people like colleagues and peers would view this task? Try to think in the same page as them. This will help you understand the situation in the same way as others would think about it. Hence, reducing your high and impossible expectations to achievable targets.

Try to view the situation as many ways as possible. Try to see the task in a different light and understand what all methods can be applied to the task so that it is both convenient and achievable for you to complete.

c. Try to see the big picture:

Most employees, who have perfectionism issues, tend to worry about the smallest of issues and problems. They often fail to think deeply about the issue and end up getting stressed for the littlest of things.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can see that how much you are failing to see the big picture and you are worrying for the littlest detail in vain. Try to give yourself some slack in your work if you really want to enjoy your profession and do what you love.

1. If I try to skip a few minor details, then would it really matter?
2. Will my subordinates notice this?
3. Will it be a huge problem for me?
4. If I do skip, what is the worst thing that could happen to me?
5. Will I be able to overcome if something worse happened to come my way? Will I be able to survive?
6. Will skipping a few minor details affect my career? Will it be of any importance today, tomorrow or even after a week?

By answering such questions you will get to know how much time you have been wasting thinking and worrying about small details.

d. Come to a decision that is suitable for you and your targets:

  • Try to compromise with yourself and the high standards that you have set up for yourself. This is necessary for tackling the perfectionist thinking such as black and white thinking and this helps you to see the grey area that is present between the two sides.
  • This will help you to read between the lines and encourages you to act accordingly and be more adjustable.
  • Compromising does not mean completely throwing away your targets and aims. Instead, it helps to lower your high targets into more considerable and practical aims that is easy to achieve and accomplish and can also be beneficial for others.
  • To adopt a good compromising strategy, think about the level of imperfection that you are able to tolerate. Also, try to make sure that you do not ruin your task by missing out a lot details. Try to omit small and unwanted details instead of worrying and wasting time thinking about such details.
  • It might be hard for many perfectionists to start right away with this approach, but with constant practice and mind control you eventually will get the hang of it and end up producing even better results. It also makes your profession more relaxing and less stressful.

3. Avoid procrastination:

Many working individuals having perfectionism issues often worry about the smallest things and they often end up procrastinating. Procrastination is important for doing important tasks, but too much free time will make the job incomplete. Procrastination is a temporary problem and it can be controlled by proper self discipline and control.

i. Set practical schedules:

Try to set schedules that are practically possible and easily achievable. Try to breakdown the given job into small manageable tasks that are easy to manage and handle. Set time limits for each task that you have to complete so as to keep you on track.

ii. Try to set your priorities:

Many perfectionists fail to set their priorities and most of them end up wasting their time for irrelevant and unwanted things. Try to decide on areas where you want to spend most of your time and energy and after completing those, try to spend time on the smaller details.

4. Reward yourself: 

  • It is a known fact that there is a lot of hard work involved when controlling and correcting your habits and practices alone, especially without the help of others.
  • There might also be a risk of ditching all these methods and reverting back to your old methods and practices.
  • To avoid this from happening try to take some to relax and reward yourself with rewards so as to remind yourself that you have worked hard to reach this far.
  • Not only will this give you happiness and satisfaction, but it also gives you the necessary push to strive and achieve more.
  • There are many rewards that you can use to reward yourself. These can be ,going for a nice refreshing walk at the park, hanging out with friends, having a nice meal with the family, or just taking some time and effort to develop and pamper yourself, for example : shopping or playing sports.

While tackling perfectionism, you might come to a realization that you are as capable as others without too much perfection and thus, try to loosen up a little and try to ease the stress and anxiety that you feel while completing near impossible tasks. Instead try to enjoy and understand the tasks that you have been assigned to complete. This might give you more satisfactory results and output than following the approach of a perfectionist.