The vicious cycle of the need for perfection

Do you strive for perfectionism in everything you do and pursue? Does every small detail need to be well thought out and corrected before you can call a task done? It can be motivating and positive to have high standards and aim for greatness. Nevertheless, aiming for excellence is not the same as perfectionism. Perfectionism often aims for an almost impossible ideal and can result in unwanted and unproductive consequences. Thus, sometimes perfectionism can have its downsides.

Perfectionism can be seen as a generational phenomenon of the Millennial. Thus, in case you are experiencing perfectionist characteristics, you are certainly not alone. You might have heard or experienced some of the unfortunate effects of perfectionism, but maybe never really considered how can those impact us? Being aware of the impacts of perfectionist tendencies is the first step in shifting your thinking into a more compassionate direction. 

How can perfectionism affect us negatively?

Overcompensation – When not achieving the impossible standards of perfectionism, perfectionists feel driven to overcompensate by setting even higher goals they will fail to meet.

Procrastination – If you demand perfection from your tasks, starting with them might be challenging. The thought of the task can be so overwhelming, that it is postponed, sometimes till the very last minute. This may also lead to underperformance.

Time-wasting – Perfectionists might be improving, enhancing and using a lot of time when trying to achieve perfection. This can lead to spending excessive time fixing details and completing tasks. 

Self-sabotageSometimes by not putting any effort into some tasks, perfectionists set themselves to underperform or fail. With this technique, perfectionists can tell themselves that if the task would have been done with more effort, it would have been done perfectly. 

No improved performanceAll the time perfectionists take into work, stress and care has a small impact on their performance quality. Studies have found no proof of perfectionists being any better or worse with their performance quality than non-perfectionists.

Burnout – By trying to live for impossible standards and constantly pushing oneself, perfectionism can take a lot of energy, mental capacity and hard work. All the stress from this work can cause a lot of strain and anxiety which may lead to burnout.

However, the negative impacts of perfectionism are possible to be avoided and changed. Becoming aware of your inner perfectionist can be one of the first steps in changing your perfectionist tendencies.

Instead of encouraging yourself to be “perfect,” sometimes it might be better to remind yourself already being “good enough.”

 

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