What is perfection about

Shedding perfectionism - it's easier to live this way

Perfectionism is considered a character trait that is often associated with professional success and motivation. After all, perfectionists place high demands on themselves, which has a positive effect on their performance at work. But perfectionism also has some downsides, not just for those affected. So is perfectionism good or bad? And how do you best deal with it?

1. Perfectionism - virtue or flaw?
2. The pursuit of success vs. fear of failure
3. Good and Bad Perfection - The "Perfectionism Trap"
4. “Teamwork? No thanks, ”said the perfectionist!
5. Are you a perfectionist? 5 unmistakable signs
6. Get out of the perfectionism trap - this is how you can do it!
7. Not only helpful for perfectionists: The Pareto principle!
8. Perfection is uneconomical
9. Applying the Pareto Principle: Tips for Perfectionists

Perfectionism - Virtue or Flaw?

Does that sound familiar to you: Everyone is enthusiastic about the product solution, the boss is also convinced - just not you? You may be a perfectionist who is never satisfied with yourself or your performance. It is a classic vicious circle: No matter what you succeed, it is never good enough. The search for perfection can be compared to an endless hunt, which in the long run leads to reduced self-confidence or to the fact that you cannot enjoy the goals you have achieved. So it is actually a mistake not to want to make mistakes.

In everyday work, however, people with a penchant for perfectionism are often very respected as employees. They stand out with properties that prove themselves in professional life: Discipline, organizational skills, reliability, determination and hard work. You work precisely, plan work and business processes efficiently down to the last detail and make sure that nothing is lost or forgotten. In doing so, they try to counteract (nasty) surprises. This is only possible with a high degree of self-discipline. People with a perfectionist disposition are therefore often considered to be in their job

  • orderly,
  • responsible,
  • ambitious and
  • competently.

Therefore, they are often given a large area of ​​responsibility and the promotion is usually not long in coming.

The pursuit of success vs. fear of failure

For the perfectionist, however, all of this also has negative consequences: He is not aware of any feeling of satisfaction. Doing all things 100 percent and perfectly - this not only leads to procrastinating, but also to tunnel vision and is sometimes not very effective.

Reading tip: "Procrastination: The 6 best tips against procrastination"

People with a penchant for perfectionism invest a lot of energy and time in striving for excellence. However, those affected rarely achieve their personal optimum. This leads to permanent dissatisfaction and can manifest itself in a low self-esteem. In addition, one's own self-esteem is only made dependent on a sense of achievement. Failure to achieve a (perfect) goal leads to disappointment, frustration and anger. A perfectionist therefore often finds himself in a dilemma: the need for success on the one hand and the fear of failure on the other.

Good and Bad Perfection - The "Perfectionism Trap"

But you shouldn't generally dismiss your desire for high quality and perfection as something negative - there is of course good perfection, but there is also bad:

  1. Negative (maladaptive) perfectionism: Often behind the addiction to perfection lies the unfulfilled need for attention or encouragement, more control or even self-protection. This type of perfectionist is a very strong-willed person to whom the saying “hard shell, soft core” applies. Such people always give their best - but primarily because of an outwardly focused motivation. This quickly develops into a downward spiral of striving, a feeling of stress and failure. Maladaptive perfectionism is responsible for the fact that affected people feel extremely insecure - they have one deeply entrenched fear of failure on.
  2. Positive (adaptive) perfectionism: Good perfectionism tends to be directed inwards and has its origin here. Such perfectionists have high values ​​and demands on themselves and therefore always set the bar a little higher - but: not for others, but to challenge yourself, to make progress in learning, to develop further and to recreate the ideal image of yourself that you have set yourself every day embody. Adaptive perfectionism allows a person to fully focus on a task - while remaining open to feedback and realizing that attention to detail is not always the ultimate. However, even this kind of perfection can quickly become convulsive and cause great frustration. For example, if you do not meet your own requirements - you fall straight into the "perfectionism trap".

"Teamwork? No thanks, ”said the perfectionist!

A team member who is always on the lookout for excellent solutions is an asset to any project. Yes working with a perfectionist person can be problematic: Those affected often have difficulties meeting deadlines - after all, they are never satisfied with a result and are constantly revising it. As a result, they not only stop at themselves and their own areas of responsibility, but also at the conclusion of customer and team projects. In addition, they can rarely accept that their teammates are not inclined to be perfectionist and that their performance is therefore not always “perfect”. This harbors great potential for conflict.

Reading tip:Teamwork - Are you really a team player?

Are you a Perfectionist? 5 unmistakable signs

Hand on heart: what about you? Are you a perfectionist yourself? Or even proud of it? Here's our quick self-test:

  1. Perfection is your motivation: Your pursuit of success leads you to put more work into a task than others. Ordinary standard is not enough for you, it has to be the best of the best. However, you not only place high demands on yourself, but also on others. However, it is not only the pursuit of perfection or success that leads to higher work performance, the fear of making a mistake is also the reason. Fear of failure, perfectionists avoid risky situations with the potential for embarrassment. Unfortunately, this affects innovation as well as spontaneous and creative action.
  2. You find it difficult to deal appropriately with criticism: The greatest critic of a person with a perfectionist disposition is himself - everything that is done is questioned and proceeded very precisely. Do even small mistakes cause you great self-doubt? When it comes to their own performance, perfectionists are very strict about accepting criticism from others, but that is difficult - a perfectionist cannot imagine that someone has found a mistake that they did not notice themselves. Those affected take every criticism personally. At the same time, they appear critical and often judgmental towards others.
  3. They consider themselves lazy and at the same time exploit themselves: Many people with a penchant for perfectionism are real workhorses - accordingly they always have something to do. The word “break” is alien to them. Still, they find themselves lazy. This is often due to the fact that work tasks take longer than originally planned and therefore the completion of other tasks is delayed. On the one hand, perfectionists pretend to be lazy, on the other hand, they repeatedly push themselves to their limits in order to finish tasks that have not yet been completed or to optimize alleged mistakes long after the official evening or at home.
  4. Teamwork is not for you: When working in a team, all members have to pull together and cooperate - this is not for a perfectionist: He sees himself as the measure of all things. He always finds a flaw in the performance of others. He demands the same attention to detail that he practices from the others and would prefer to implement the entire project on his own.
  5. You are not open inside: Admitting personal weaknesses, disappointments or fears to others is usually not possible for perfectionists. An intimate connection and the "opening up" in front of others is a lengthy process. Vulnerable and without protection, perfectionist people almost never want to show themselves - they rather have the desire to present themselves to the outside world as strong and also their feelings, how to be able to control all areas of life “perfectly”.

Get out of the perfectionism trap - this is how you can do it!

In smaller doses, perfectionism proves to be beneficial in the job; after all, it motivates you to give your best. However, if you are one of those extreme perfectionists, this may not only work for you, but also to become a problem for your career and your work environment - especially if you repeatedly have difficulties with deadlines, your time management, working with other employees and trusting your colleagues. The following tips offer ways out of the perfectionism trap and guide you towards positive imperfection:

  • Admit that your expectations are too high and forgive yourself for mistakes: Insight is the first step towards improvement - do you realize that you are always striving for the ideal and that mediocrity does not (yet) meet your self-claims? Realize that your co-workers may not ask as much of you as you do. Stop blaming yourself when something didn't work out as planned. Chronic self-doubt increases your insecurity. This is the beginning of inferiority complexes. "Better strengthen your strengths“! Also, expect to make mistakes. You can often achieve a greater learning effect from this than from success. Failure is not your enemy, see it as an opportunity.

Reading tip: "Strengthening self-confidence: tips & exercises for more self-confidence"

  • Don't set your goals too high: Set clear goals and keep your limits in mind. Are there areas in which precise work or quality are not absolutely necessary? Where is it possible to save energy? Try to weigh costs and benefits against each other: If the costs outweigh the costs, it is necessary to reconsider your goal or the purpose of the task.

Reading tip: "Determination: Achieving goals using the SMART formula"

  • Define a clear schedule and don't get lost in details: Take into account your existing energies and determine before (project) start how much time and energy you will invest in certain tasks. It is essential that you adhere to the deadlines by which you should have completed and submitted tasks. In this regard, it is important not to get bogged down in details. Too much attention to detail always leads to tunnel vision. The following also applies here: Analyze less! You can also over-analyze problems - and this is also a kind of procrastination tactic.
  • Just do it: This sentence has a double meaning and you should take it literally: get started - and don't make things more complicated than they are!
  • Treat yourself to breaks or time-outs: Try to counteract a feeling of being overwhelmed at work and refuse if you are already busy with tasks. Plan a vacation to relax and allow yourself more and more simply the mediocrity.

Not only helpful for perfectionists: That Pareto principle!

The 80:20 rule, also called Pareto principle known, was worked out by an Italian economist in the 19th century. Vilfredo Pareto looked at the distribution of wealth in Italy and found that 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the wealth. We now know that this rule can be applied to many areas of life: For example, we wear 20 percent of our clothes in 80 percent of our time or 20 percent of customers make up 80 percent of the company's turnover.

For us this means that 20 percent of our own efforts are decisive for 80 percent of our personal success - or: 80 percent of the results can be achieved with 20 percent of the total effort.

Perfection is uneconomical

If you combine the Pareto principle with your time or work management, with the right distribution of priorities you can often do 80 percent of the entire work with 20 percent of the effort - so an excellent result can be achieved with very little effort. However, if you constantly strive for perfection and want to achieve 100 percent, that means enormous stress and a great loss of time and energy. According to Pareto's rule, perfection is simply uneconomical.

Applying the Pareto Principle: Tips for Perfectionists

Don't bother with work that doesn't add meaningful value!

An example: Think of a project and imagine that you only had six days instead of 30 - hardly imaginable? Think about what you would have to do to get the project over in six days. What are the critical points? You will quickly notice that, contrary to expectations, there are not that many absolutely critical steps. Various smaller points can be deleted without endangering the overall project. The bottom line might have been a little better in 30 days, but think about the time it saved you.

Consistent application of Pareto's rule is naturally difficult for perfectionists, but try it gradually:

  • Don't read the email to your colleague at the end for spelling, just click on send!
  • Cut your online time by searching only for the relevant information!
  • Start every day with the most important task! Tip: It's mostly the one you're trying to put off.

Are you also a perfectionist? Or what positive or negative experiences have you had with perfectionists in your job? Have you perhaps successfully overcome your perfectionism and know practical tips for our affected readers? We look forward to your contribution on the topic in the comments!

Photo credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock.com


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