The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

Being a perfectionist could be costing your business valuable time and money. Here’s a better management strategy.

Most of us get an occasional streak of perfectionism. A little of it can be fine. But it can be a real problem if you often get it in your head that whatever you are doing must be completely right, and if it’s not, it’s completely wrong. Perfectionism is not about doing a job to the best of your abilities. It is about trying to obtain the impossible. Trying to obtain the impossible can make you feel bad and eat up lots of time and energy.

You are just not going to reach perfection. The reason for this is simple: You don’t really know what perfection is until you reach it. But the instant you reach what you thought might be perfection, you can start to think of improvements. So what once was perfection is now the status quo, with another “perfection” beyond it. So you never reach your goal.

Not reaching a goal leads you to feeling frustrated. As the frustration builds you might focus more and more on the goal, but the goal keeps running away from you. After a while you begin to feel angry.

Another drawback of perfectionism is that the more you try to get it, the more energy you use. You know that it requires a lot of effort just to look for mistakes even when you are not going for perfection. If you are going for perfection, a lot more energy is taken up by the fear of missing even one tiny mistake. A little bit of fear may be okay. But too much fear can actually lead to making mistakes. All of this looking for mistakes and fearing them can be exhausting.

Finally, perfectionism costs you lots of time. The simple fact is that while you are looking for that last, tiny mistake, other things that you need to do, maybe have to do, are getting neglected. They will either go undone or you will end up losing sleep to get them done.

What is the remedy for perfectionism? The best is to stop using the word “perfect” and start using “excellent”. So instead of saying, “I want to do it perfectly,” you say, “I want to do an excellent job.” In almost everything you do an excellent job is good enough. By not getting “excellent” confused with “perfect” you will save yourself lots of time.

Dr. Kevin Polk: Family Man, Goal and Time Management Trainer, Speaker, Writer and Psychologist. Too much time being stressed? Too little time having fun? Stop by for a Time Saving newsletter and a chance at FREE time management training.

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