Is your worth dependent on other people’s approval?
Do you put things off for fear of failure even though you consider yourself a high achiever?
Therein lays the irony of perfectionism- the greatest perfectionists are often the greatest procrastinators.
While perfectionists typically strive for excellence and stretch themselves thin to please others, they also have the tendency to become so paralyzed by their need for excellence that they cannot take action to accomplish their goals or tasks.
Breaking free of perfectionism is not easy. However, it is possible to manage the need for obsessive excellence and social approval.
Do you have an important upcoming presentation but you just cannot get yourself to start preparing for it?
Wanting to make an impressive presentation is a noble and worthwhile goal. However, if you are feeling too overwhelmed with the prospect of getting down and preparing for it, try to break the task at hand into mini-goals.
As you get down to work, remind yourself that this is only the first draft, so you will have a chance to polish it up to make an impressive presentation.
Often, perfectionism stems from the idea that you only have one chance to get it right.
But think about it: if you get on your task sooner rather than later, you will have plenty more time to thoroughly go through your presentation, practice and eliminate errors.On the other hand, putting it off until later means you will not have any time to error-proof your presentation, which could result to a poor presentation on the actual day.
“The rule of thumb is to break down your tasks into manageable chunks, start early and know that you have time to eliminate errors.”
The problem with perfectionists is that they are so disproportionately fixated on the outcome that they overlook the process.
The result of focusing entirely on the outcome is that you become too freaked out to do anything because you anticipate failure.
It is important to see what you are doing and who you are as work in progress. Managing the process entails getting yourself to work and reminding yourself that there is room for adjustment.
For example, instead of focusing so much on what your boss and colleagues will say about your presentation, the compliments, praises or judgments they will make, allow yourself to focus on getting down to developing a presentation that will add value to your company and will showcase your expertise.
The point is to focus on excellence as opposed to fixating on perfectionism.
Perfectionists, just like procrastinators often spend most of their time planning or dreaming instead of doing.
For example, a lot of writers get caught up in perfection paralysis so much so that they end up not writing at all. In other words, their need for utter perfectionism prevents them from pursuing and accomplishing their goals.
On the other hand, if a writer spends more time writing than planning, they tend to become better writers. They also feel more fulfilled and less anxious because they are pursuing their passion.
Perfection paralysis emanates from the skewed perception of the self. Perfectionists usually see themselves as just a single self, so if they do not do well in one area, they perceive their entire existence as a failure.
Adopting a pluralist perception of yourself allows you to see that you are good at certain things and not too good at others. You have many different attributes, some of which are perfect while others are imperfect.
Learn to work through this realization of a pluralistic self and you will be able to accept failure as part of the journey towards excellence.
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