The Real Truth about Perfectionism: Part One

Are you always striving to get it perfect? Never satisfied because it “could be better”?

Perfectionism is a mindset that sabotages many smart, hard working women. Successful high-achievers are used to shooting for excellence and attaining big results. We tend to get used to holding ourselves to very high standards, and from there, it’s an easy fall into the perfectionism trap. The struggle of never feeling “good enough” is exhausting, yet many people actually wear their need to get it perfect like a badge of honor.

“I expect a lot of myself.” “No one can do it like I do.”  “I want it done right.”

The problem is that excellence and big results are not synonymous with expectations of perfection. In fact, the pursuits of excellence and perfectionism usually take you in opposite directions. Contrary to the myth many of us hear in our heads, perfectionism is not a strength, it can actually be severely limiting—sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

Six ways perfectionism could be sabotaging you

1. Expecting 100 percent all the time creates burnout. When you live in the all-or-nothing world of perfectionism, something could always be better. Perfectionists tend to feel like there is always more that could be done and short change themselves when it comes to acknowledging and celebrating the smaller milestones and successes they achieve. Whether you are trying to lose weight or grow your business, perfectionism leads to minimizing what you actually do accomplish, and eventually, to discouragement and even burnout.

2. The pressure to be perfect leads to procrastination. Perfectionists see success as a black or white proposition and often fail to break things down into small, do-able chunks (small milestones never feel like enough). As a result, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by big looming projects or ideas and to delay even getting started–because it’s too much work and the fear of failure is so strong.

3. Perfectionism erodes self-esteem and confidence. Embedded in the myth of perfectionism is the belief that it is actually possible and that, if you aren’t achieving it, you are falling short.

4. Being a perfectionist is isolating and limits your support system. Perfectionists avoid asking for help. Feeling like you are not “measuring up” leads to isolation and a tendency to hide what a perfectionist thinks of as “failures.” Where a mentor or a supportive colleague might offer fresh solutions, “going it alone” just tends to reinforce the myths that keep a perfectionist stuck.

5. Perfectionistic thinking creates tight, rigid thinking instead of the nimble, creative problem solving that nurtures big success. The fear of “getting it wrong” limits risk taking. The negative judgment that a perfectionist associates with mistakes can short circuit the ability to look at a situation creatively, tweak, modify, and build a better mousetrap.

6. The need to “get it perfect” leads to a life out of balance. If you are constantly chasing perfection in certain areas of your life, like work, you are probably neglecting other important parts. Many very successful women sacrifice me-time and their own needs pursuing professional perfectionism. In the end, going without self-care leaves you depleted, less happy, and unable to perform at your best. When your life is out of whack, it—and you—suffer.

Is perfectionism sabotaging you? In part two of this post I’ll share six steps to turning things around.

Take good care,

Melissa

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