5 Reasons Why You Need to Stop Being a Perfectionist

Perfection is impossible. It doesn’t exist—yet, there are still so many people out there still after it. If Bill Gates waited for all his ideas related to Microsoft to be perfect before he started the company, do you think he still would have ended up as successful as he is today?

Almost all perfectionists would agree that it’s not fun being one. While being a perfectionist has some upsides to it—it makes you better at catching errors and more detail oriented, these pros definitely do not outweigh the cons.

Not only does perfectionism take a toll on your mental health, it makes you less efficient. Believe it or not, forcing yourself to be perfect at everything you do is making you less productive. Take a look at these five ways being a perfectionist is making you less productive and some tips that can help you change your mindset!

1. It keeps you from getting started

Believe it or not, perfectionism often results in procrastination. If you put an enormous amount of pressure on yourself and convince yourself that you must do something perfectly, chances are, you are not going to want to get started on that task.

That pressure in your mind results in you procrastinating and avoiding the work for as long as you can. You know that when you do get started, it is going to be difficult, draining work since it requires a lot of effort for it to be done perfectly.

Tip to Overcome This Habit:

Give yourself permission to do a task badly. Take away the pressure. Tell yourself that you are going to do it badly but then perfect it later. Often times, you’ll realize that work you do without the burden of it needing to be perfect is still pretty good quality work and you are a lot more relaxed while doing it.

2. It wastes your time

Being a perfectionist usually means that you’ll end up obsessing over insignificant little details. Before you start writing that essay that’s due soon, you’ll have to format your document perfectly, gather the perfect research and use perfect sentence structure and grammar all while writing the first draft.

So much time is wasted on tiny little details that can usually be corrected very quickly in the ending but take a much greater chunk of time if you do it as you go along. In fact, getting caught up in the small details can prevent you from focusing on the greater goal at hand.

If you are so concerned with your grammar and spelling while writing that essay, you’ll keep losing your train of thought about the ideas themselves and distract yourself from the overall goal of proving your thesis.

Tip to Overcome This Habit:

Break down your task into separate steps and plan out what exactly you are going to try to accomplish in each step. In the early steps, focus on just producing something. Do not spend any time trying to perfect anything—remind yourself that it’s still a work in progress.

This is likely difficult to do as a perfectionist, so allocate specific steps at the very ending to do all the little things you would normally do along the way to make it “perfect”. This way you won’t interrupt your flow by turning your attention to insignificant little details.

3. It stops you from taking on new challenges

Perfectionists are afraid of failing. A perfectionist doesn’t like to do things that they know they won’t be able to do perfectly. This results in hesitation when it comes to taking on new challenges. So many opportunities can just pass you by in life if you aren’t willing to risk failing at something.

There are a number of benefits that come out of trying something new or taking a risk. Have you ever had one of those amazing moments where you tried something for the first time and you just happened to be incredible at it? Being a perfectionist may prevent you from ever experiencing something like that.

Tip to Overcome This Habit:

Remind yourself that perfection doesn’t exist. Nobody in this world is perfect. Everybody fails at something so it is okay to fail. These wise words from J.K. Rowling perfectly depict this idea:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default”.

-J.K. Rowling

4. It leaves you exhausted

Trying to be perfect is draining. Plain and simple. The bar is always set so uncomfortably high and you are constantly forcing yourself to work extremely hard to reach your unrealistic expectations. While it is good to push yourself and try to take things to the next level, doing this constantly will leave you exhausted.

When you are mentally drained, the work you produce tends to be lower quality than when you are feeling energized. It’ll take you much longer to complete tasks that might have been quick if you weren’t tired from pushing yourself so hard.

Tip to Overcome This Habit:

Make sure you give yourself breaks while working. While this isn’t going to cure your perfectionism, it’s a way to reduce its affect on your life.

It’s going to take some time to stop being a perfectionist. While working towards changing your mindset, avoid burning yourself out by scheduling breaks and giving yourself sufficient time to recover from hard work.

5. It demotivates you

When you are always striving for perfection, chances are you are going to disappoint yourself very often. That can make you feel as if no matter how hard you work, it’ll never be good enough.

Setting impossibly high standards means you will rarely feel the satisfaction of doing a task well since you consider anything beneath perfection unsatisfactory.  Sometimes, you may even end up just expecting perfection from yourself so even when you do achieve it, it won’t even feel as if you accomplished something great.

This lack of feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction is extremely demotivating since it essentially ends up making you feel as if you are only working to end up disappointed.

Tip to Overcome This Habit:

Set realistic goals. When setting the bar for yourself, be rational. Perfectionists tend to be much harder on themselves than they are on others.

Think about it this way: would you have the expectations that you are forcing yourself to live up to for someone else? Would you expect your friend to meet the same standards you set for yourself? Chances are that your answer is no. When setting goals, create them as if you are doing it for a friend.

You will likely be able to achieve your goals if they are realistic, which can help motivate you and bring you feelings satisfaction.

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