Tag: perfectionism (page 1 of 2)

How to stop being a perfectionist

This is a useful and to-the-point article about ways in which perfectionists self-sabotage, and the ways in which they can get out of their own way.

As a recovering perfectionist, I recognise these traits, and am still working on both ruminating about “weaknesses, mistakes, and failures” and applying my own high standards to others.

Perfectly-mown grass

The ways that the author notes that perfectionists can get in their own way are:

  • Struggling to make decisions or take action
  • Worrying excessively about sunk costs
  • Avoiding challenges to avoid failure
  • Applying their high standards to others
  • Ruminating about weaknesses, mistakes, and failures

…and the ways they can overcome these:

  • Learn from successes
  • Develop heuristics to enable faster decision-making and action taking
  • Ask yourself “How could I improve by 1%?”
  • Learn strategies to disrupt rumination

Source: How Perfectionists Can Get Out of Their Own Way | Harvard Business Review

Opportunity costs

While I appreciate the sentiment behind this article, I feel that the title is a bit off, and the solution a bit odd. Instead, I’d argue by sharing you work early and often, and in a way that people don’t need to have a meeting with you to discuss, you end up iterating towards better solutions.

The other thing is that, so long as you’re rigorous about working hours, workplace chat apps allow you to fix typos after you’ve sent messages. Always useful for people with ‘fat thumbs’ like me.

Unfortunately, time is a limited resource, which creates an opportunity cost. Opportunity costs are the name economists give to the things you could have been doing with a resource you spent in another way. The time you devote to a particular project could have been spent on countless other things on your to-do list, but you chose to spend them on that project.

And there is the rub.

Every project you do at work needs to be effective, but not every project needs to be perfect. An email you send to a close colleague at your level of the organization can be a partial sentence with typos in it and it will still elicit the desired response without damaging the relationship. A note to your boss might need to be written a little more carefully. A presentation to a potential new client had better be polished to a high gloss.

Source: You shouldn’t always give 110% | Fast Company

More advice on perfectionism

A few years ago I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which is even better than people say. I was reminded of this quotation via Oliver Burkeman’s Help! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life… perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird