7 Tips for Perfectionists
on the job
It’s only logical that you want to do your job as well as possible. That’s great for yourself and great for your employer. But if the best is never good enough for you, then you are probably a perfectionist. In principle a fantastic quality but it can also get in the way. Because it costs (too) much time, because it takes energy and because you miss the happiness of being satisfied with your performance. Sin! So how do you keep your penchant for perfectionism at work under control? We give you tools from the best experts.
#1 Recognize the perfectionist in yourself
Everything starts with insight so it is useful to know if and when the Perfectionist in you takes over. In other words, do you recognize yourself in the descriptions below?
- Is your inner critic always on?
- Are you afraid to make mistakes?
- Do you put off difficult things in order not to make wrong decisions?
- Do you worry a lot about your actions?
- Are you never truly satisfied with your work accomplished?
- Are you afraid that you are not fulfilling?
- Do you feel that anything less than 100% perfect has no value?
- Do you find it difficult to leave things to others?
- Do small jobs often become big jobs because you go all out?
- Is it annoying if you do not master something yet?
- Is your bar always high?
Do you answer several questions with yes, then this article is for you! Because there are plenty of reasons to temper your perfectionism a little. Because how nice would it be if you put a little less pressure on yourself? If you do not constantly have the idea that you fall short? If you dare to make mistakes and take up activities outside your comfort zone? Sounds like instant profit, right? Besides, it’s not unlikely that you’ll apply your high standards to others as well and chances are you’ll be constantly disappointed. So stop this self-sabotage and go for good enough instead of perfection a little more often.
#2 Go for added value
In your work, your goal should not be to do everything perfectly down to the last detail, but to add as much value and impact as possible. That may mean that the hours you spend making a good report excellent are not going to produce results at all. So regularly ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I using my time wisely?
- Am I being productive?
- Will I be more successful if I continue this?
- Will things go wrong if I don’t?
This will help you discover earlier at what point there is no added value in your efforts and so you can move on to the next job.
#3 Check your standard with others
The standard that you impose on yourself does not have to correspond at all to the standard of those involved. By asking for feedback on your work in the meantime, you will discover whether a lot of work is indeed still needed or whether your concept is actually already in order.
#4 Mistakes are a part of life
A perfectionist is always trying to avoid and prevent mistakes. But everyone makes mistakes and that is only human. So if you accidentally make a mistake, it does not mean that everyone will write you off immediately. Or that they immediately don’t like you anymore. You have done something wrong (and hopefully you have learned something from it) but you are not wrong. Remember more often, doing something is not being something. By being a little looser with this, you are freer in the ways you can do your job.
#5 Embrace helpful criticism
As a perfectionist, you can get pretty upset about criticism. In fact, you do everything to avoid it. And when it does happen, you keep repeating the criticism in your head, seeing it as an attack on your person or just feeling bad about the fact that there is something wrong with you. But criticism is also someone making the effort to help you further, a chance to learn and an opportunity to improve yourself. So before you get upset, it’s best to consider whether there is any truth in it, who the messenger is and whether there might be some benefit to taking the criticism to heart. And if it turns out that the criticism is unjustified, let it go and move on to more important things.
#6 Prevent endless fretting
Typically, perfectionists can think endlessly about events and spend hours ruminating over conversations. Whereby, by nature, the focus is on all the negative aspects. As a rule, this brooding leads nowhere. So try to break through this. By distracting yourself with concrete activities, by reliving your successes in your mind and by writing down your solution and thus ticking the issue off your mental action list. And also by letting go of things that have been. You can’t change them anymore anyway.
#7 Get others to help you
Ask for feedback from others, that’s the only way to really find out how they view your performance. You will see that you are probably much more harsh in your judgment of your own actions than the other person. In addition, you can enlist others as buddies. Indicate that you are working to curb your perfectionism and ask a colleague or manager whom you trust to point it out if you do drift off in your urge to do things perfectly. And listen to them.
Be proud of yourself
Letting go of your perfectionism is an ongoing process that unfortunately is not settled with following a few tips. So keep questioning and challenging yourself. Be proud of the moments when you have been successful in lowering your bar a bit. In the moments when you have protected yourself from working unnecessarily and too hard. Especially when it’s revealed that no one has complained, no customers have run away, and your colleagues are still happy with your work. Because you’ll notice, apparently it can be done without constantly asking the utmost of yourself.
Want to read more about perfectionism? We were inspired by these Dutch resources, among others: