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Learning to Balance Your Perfectionism at Work

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By Jaymie Pompeo
Contributor, Career Servicescombating_workplace_stress

Have you ever been late in turning in that PowerPoint presentation because the font is not perfect on that one slide? Ever had someone get credit for an idea you had but hesitated in submitting a formal proposal that wasn’t “good enough” yet? Consider yourself a perfectionist.

While presenting high quality work should always be your goal, perfectionists take it to an extreme that can be detrimental in the workplace. The amount of anxiety and stress from overanalyzing your efforts may contribute to producing low-quality work, missing deadlines, and may even hold you back, career-wise.

As a recovering perfectionist myself, here are some coping strategies that are helping me curb this mentality.

Acknowledge your perfectionism. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but when your perfectionist tendencies are at an all-time high, it can get in the way of your personal and professional life. While it’s never easy to challenge the way you normally think and do things, it’s crucial to take the first step and identify this as a problem in order to actively make changes.

Keep things in perspective. Take a step back and recognize when your obsessive behavior is getting out of hand. Ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” For example, is worrying about the color choice of that infographic you’re creating worth the sleepless nights? Would another night of preparing for that presentation on Monday be worth cancelling your weekend family plans?

Value the process more than just the outcome. Obsessing over the perfect way to approach a project at work only leads to procrastination, which can result in rushing to get it off your hands and, ultimately, poor quality. Instead, break it up in smaller sections to work on with achievable deadlines to help boost your creativity. Remember, the process is the longest part of the achievement –plan to enjoy it!

Don’t be afraid to fail. Instead of dwelling on how you could have prevented that mistake, consider shifting your perspective towards mistakes as a learning opportunity. Maybe you didn’t get that job you were really hoping for. Instead of wallowing, thank the employer for their consideration and attempt to schedule an informational meeting. Not only can you possibly gain insight for areas of improvement, but you’ll be memorable as the candidate who turned rejection into a possible future opportunity.

Surround yourself with free spirits. Now, these strategies can only be made possible for me through my support system, which ironically is made up of non-perfectionists. Their relaxed, go-with-the-flow style boggles my mind, from the way they effortlessly throw ideas on paper to get a project started to the way they appear untroubled as they bounce back from mistakes. The more I connect with them and the more I observe, the more grateful I become to them for showing me how to recognize when to let go of unrealistic ideals.

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