Getting Real About Perfectionism

GETTING REAL ABOUT PERFECTIONISMHave you got something on your mind that you’ve always dreamed of getting through but never quite got there? Have you been slowed in creating your work because you feel like it’s not “perfect”? Perfection is often the best friend of the procrastinator, so much so that perfection is often one of those excuses that we have for not getting done what we meant to.

If this sounds like you, well, that’s understandable because at some point most of us do this! But those who take the trait of perfectionism into everything they do are often afflicted with high levels of stress and a constant feeling that they’re just not good enough. Perfectionists and high achievers share a lot of common traits, but one of the key differences is that a high achiever will be happy if they have given their best and achieved something close to excellence, even if their goals were not entirely met. A perfectionist will not be happy with anything less than absolute perfection, putting themselves under a lot of pressure!

While many people believe that perfectionism is an admirable trait, the kind of thing you own up to as a “flaw” during a job interview, the fact is that it can be a crippling condition for those who are badly affected and recent studies have shown links to suicide rates. Unfortunately, the meticulous nature of perfectionists means that if they have made up their minds to commit suicide, they tend to succeed.

Further research has shown that the most successful people in any field are unlikely to be perfectionists. Pefectionism itself often leads to procrastination, which prevents the perfectionist from achieving at the higher levels they may be capable of.

Given the negative implications for mental and physical health that go along with perfectionism, it is a trait that is certainly worth examining if you believe that you are affected by it. Remember it is about more than pushing yourself to achieve high goals, perfectionism can be the outward showing of serious internal issues around self-worth and anxiety, and should be addressed as early as possible due to its destructive tendencies.

Gordon Flett, a York University psychologist and author of one of the recent studies suggests that one way of overcoming perfectionism is to aim that trait outside of yourself. For example you could volunteer your services to help others.

If you have always wanted to write a book but been slowed down by perfectionist tendencies, this month may be a good challenge for you. November is National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo), where you are challenged to end the month having written a 50,000 word novel. Now, the idea is to get your words down on paper so that you have a draft outlined, you can always edit it later! The key to NaNoWriMo is to take action and get writing…