I had a pleasure to present this article as a speech at GirlGeekDinner event in Sydney on Dec 2016. This article is related to my experience at work and life which comes with some research that I’ve done about this topic.
In this article, I’m going to discuss, about being perfectionist and how being perfectionist can make us successful or unsuccessful.
We all might be somehow perfectionist in different aspects of our life for example at work or in our relationships. Almost everyone knows someone who is perfectionist if they are not perfectionist themselves.
What’s the pros of being a perfectionist?
- High standards
Perfectionists have very high standards for everything, and always they are very specific on deciding what to wear, who to be friend with, the quality of delivery of a work and etc. They can easily meet the expectations of clients, managers or others because of their high standards.
- Good organisers
Perfectionists like to declutter everything, because of that they might have a very clean desk. They might be also really good in checking emails and making sure, they don’t have any unread emails and declutter their inbox every hour.
They also set everything in order. They set up everything really well such as meetings and things that need to be done by providing a checklist for them which makes them a good organiser.
- Attention to details
Perfectionists are really good on spotting mistakes while others don’t see them. This makes them to be very details oriented. For example, they like to double check their work many times to make sure that the output is as perfect as possible in every aspect.
- Great analysers
Because they pay attention to every single detail, they have very good analytical skills. They can think of details that others may not even have noticed before and try to include it in the output. Which it makes their work really great as an employee and create a positive impression at work for them.
- Polished results
Their work is mostly crystal clear because they think of everything and worked on every detail. Sometimes, their colleague might wonder how they managed to get everything like that and how much time they spend and how they are patient to produce such a work with great accuracy.
With all these, being perfectionist looks awesome, their work, their life looks great and everyone think they have everything under control. But is that all? Are they always perfect?
What are the cons of being a perfectionist?
- All or nothing
Perfectionists believe everything should be done really well or shouldn’t do it at all.
To give you an example, I had a research subject at Uni and the subject was really difficult and required lots of interviews and research. We were two girls and 13 gentlemen in the class. In the last session, we had to present our assignment to our lecturer and classmates. My female classmate didn’t attend the session and gave up on all her efforts and didn’t pass the subject. I asked her later why she didn’t attend the session while she got the exact same mark as me for the first assignment. She told me “I wasn’t happy about my first assignment as it wasn’t perfect. So, I didn’t want to continue with that for the second assignment. I will do the subject another time”.
Believe me, she wasn’t bad in the subject at least in comparison with other guys who attended, even a few of them had a very low-quality assignment. I’m sure if she wasn’t perfectionist about the delivery of her assignment she would have got a good mark on that subject.
When you think only about the end result then you don’t leave any room for mistakes and it makes everything difficult and stressful. You also might fear of any possible failure, because you don’t like to be imperfect.
- What if?
Whenever something goes wrong or they cannot achieve their goal, they keep wondering “What if?” What if I did this or didn’t do that. Thinking about the outcomes hundred times and feel that everything is their fault because they didn’t achieve it. This makes them depress and they can even lose their confidence. They’re always quick to beat themselves up and feel extremely bad about a mistake for a long while. And sometimes they might want to feel better, so they look for to get others acceptance which is not the best way to feel perfect. Because gradually their confidence will be depended on others acceptance.
- Success is never enough
Whatever they do, they always aim for higher than that. For example, if they want to achieve a goal and they get that, instead of celebrating the success and being happy about what they achieved, they just thinking about pushing a bit more to get the next success. But this could result in losing confidence because they never feel happy about what they achieve and get, instead, they expect more.
Because they always like to be perfect, they constantly waiting for the right moment to work on their goals. They only want to start when they are ready, so, they postpone the work. For example, if you want to have your own start-up, just do it. Don’t sit somewhere and say I will do it once I get less busy and be in a better situation and etc. That time is never going to happen.
Perfectionists like to get everything done according to their expectations and standards. They can be slow in delivering the outcome in comparison with others. Because they spend lots of time to make every piece of work to perfection.
Generally, being perfectionist is very common among girls because we learn to be perfect since childhood, we are taught to paly safe and don’t take risks. On the other hand, boys are taught to be brave, swing over the tree and take the risk at any time of their life.
So, when they become an adult and if they want to apply for a job, mostly girl if they don’t feel they match 100% with the job, they don’t apply while men will apply even if they match only 60%.
How to overcome perfectionism
Sometimes the perfection becomes an obsession. If you think you have any of these characteristics and like to overcome that, here what you can do.
- Remove the all-or-nothing mindset
In the real world, no one achieves success smoothly without failure. No entrepreneur succeeds without having failed in the past. In reality, everything happens in progression, not in all-or-nothing manner.
- Learn to respect and love yourself
You might do self-neglect a lot especially when things go wrong. But you should know that we should love ourselves and flaws, e.g. instead of working hard and having not enough sleep to make something to perfection or, instead of just keep telling ourselves that it was our fault when something went wrong, keep our health the highest priority and give sometimes to be relaxed.
- Celebrate every progress, victory and failure
Allocate time for yourself and those you love. Leave the work behind and don’t prioritise work over your life and celebrate both your victory and failures.
When you don’t achieve a particular goal, you feel you failed. But I’m sure you have definitely learnt new things. You shouldn’t be hard on yourself because it will result in the lack of confidence and stop taking the risk in the future. Don’t lose your confidence with fear of failure.
- Delegate and let go
Sometimes, it is a bit tough to work with perfectionists because they think they can do everything better than anyone else. But my suggestion is that trust your teammates and give them the work and let it go. For example, in programming, if you want to deliver a perfect project, it requires lots of work and time and resources; we all know that a project is the result of everyone in the team and not only one person.
- Good enough mindset
I know perfectionists like to have high standards and think of any details, but sometimes good enough really is good enough and they can stop there instead of wasting time on perfecting details that are not that important.
Now, what do you think about yourself? Are you a perfectionist? Do you want to be in some aspects and don’t want to be in other aspects of your life or work? I’ll leave that to you but keep this in mind that being brave and taking a risk can make your life more interesting than being perfect in everything, that’s my experiences. I used to be perfectionist in many aspects of my life and work but now, I’m not and I feel happier than before and my life looks much perfect than before.