Perfection in your work is amazing – but perfectionism is a trait that can prevent you getting anything done.
If you find that you frequently miss deadlines, alienate your teammates, or develop stress symptoms as a result of your fear of less-than-perfect, it is likely a good idea to recalibrate your efforts.
This harmful breed of perfectionism is known as maladaptive perfectionism. It’s a problem because pushing yourself to reach unattainable results is a lose-lose situation.
Whether it is time limitations, restricted resources, or your own physical limits that hold you back, continuing to strive for perfect work when the conditions aren’t right will harm the work and will harm you.
But how can you temper your perfectionism without compromising your standards? As it happens, there are plenty of ways that have been scientifically demonstrated to be effective.
In Brazil, for example, researchers have shown that using visualization techniques to put your worries into perspective can help you to form a more realistic strategy to proceed. When you catch yourself stressing over a detail or panicking over a deadline, put a couple of minutes aside to sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of everything that’s going right with your project, and everything that’s going wrong. This way you will get a more objective idea of what you’ve achieved and what is still possible.
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Perfectionism also has a social aspect.
This has become acuter with the rise of social media since we are bombarded with constant reminders of just how well our friends and rivals appear to be getting on. You may find you have a particular friend (or more than one!) who loses their social filter when they get online and has a tendency to leave unasked-for and negative ‘feedback’ on anything you share.
Social media is not reality. If you find yourself competing with the heavily-mediated expectations that come with life on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, then do yourself a favor and simply log off.
Even a one-month social media detox can help you get a little more of that precious ‘perspective’ that perfectionists so dearly need.
But perhaps the most valuable lesson at all is to learn to embrace flaws and mistakes.
The world is not perfect; even nature has its glitches and shortfalls. Deliberately integrated into your work, through clever design or just through learning from your mistakes, imperfection can make what you do more resonant and more beautiful.
The Japanese have a name for this: wabi-sabi. Learn to enjoy that which you cannot control, and the world will become a less intimidating place.
Sounds like a good place to start? You’ll find nine great tips on how to make the most of your perfectionism in this new visual guide from Saving Spot.