Are you a perfectionist? Yes? Uh oh... Perhaps you should turn away from your computer or mobile screen right now just in case we’re missing a comma or there is a slight typo. We wouldn’t want you to become enraged and toss your computer right out the window. Being fastidious and punctilious are admirable attributes to have, but they can also be a curse to your growth in life and career.
See Also: 9 Signs You’re a Perfectionist [Video]
Whether you’re a perfectionist boss, perfectionist employee or perfectionist person all around, there are many negatives that come with maintaining this often admonished characteristic. Indeed, perfectionists are committed to their work, their goals and they are very hard working, but they’re also anxious, frustrated and in pain.
Since perfectionists are driven and want every single aspect in their life to be perfect - job, home, significant other and children - they can often be disappointed. Life isn’t perfect. If you’re searching for a utopia then this planet is not it. This is one thing perfectionists have to realize.
It can even be a deadly personal trait to have. Scientists have discovered that being a perfectionist can lead to poor health and an increased risk of death. If you’re thinking of rearranging your closet for the fifth time today, then simply take a step back and close the door!
Before we can continue, here is an apt quote from Gordon Flett, a psychology professor at York University:
"You should want to be perfect across a variety of aspects of your life. It’s natural to be perfectionistic in the thing that matters the most, like your job — if you’re a surgeon, there’s no room for error. [But] you don’t want that same person to be going home and using those same standards to evaluate family members, which causes stress."
Here are seven reasons why being a perfectionist isn’t as cool as you thought:
1. Your Productivity Is Reduced
Let’s say you’re a freelance writer and you’ve been given a project of fifteen articles all ranging from 500 to 750 words. The list of articles needs to be completed within the next seven days. It’s definitely doable. However, three days have gone by and you’ve only completed two articles. Why? Because you’re dissatisfied with the content you’ve started writing for the second piece. You write one paragraph and you delete it. You write one sentence and you’re unhappy with the comma placements. By the time you’ve finally completed the article you decide to erase everything you’ve written (imagine if you used a typewriter).
Overall, due to your perfectionist behavior, your productivity diminishes. You’re fussing over the smallest of details, while missing out on the entirety of the project. It’ll take you an entire month before you finish the project you’ve been given from a potentially lucrative and stable client.
Your career can be seriously impeded if your productivity isn’t up to par.
2. Procrastination Complements Perfectionism
Surprisingly, procrastination complements perfectionism. It may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this: you intentionally postpone doing something on a regular basis because you’re biding your time for the right solution, the right time and the right context. In other words, you’re making the task more complicated than it should be and making everything seem like a bigger deal. In the end, you don’t get much done because your expectations are impossible to achieve.
3. Ambitions Are Very Limited
The fear of failure is one of the originators to your perfectionist behavior. Since you don’t want to experience failure, your ambitions are very limited. Rather than opening your mind and challenging yourself to new ideas, you’ve decided to keep it safe and only work within the parameters you’re comfortable in. As a result, you work in a career you don’t care for because you’re accustomed to it and you can finish any task or assignment with your eyes closed.
4. When Have You Experienced Something New?
This ties into the previous point. Perfectionists often lead rather dull and unfulfilling lives. They don’t experience anything new or open themselves up to mistakes that can lead to new memories. Therefore, it must be asked: when was the last time you experienced something new? When you stumble upon the unfamiliar and exit your comfort zone then you can bump into opportunities which can help you learn a lot about yourself and perhaps find something that will make you truly satisfied and content.
5. Being Stressed Out and Anxious
As previously mentioned, the health of perfectionists isn’t great. You’re unhappy when you shouldn’t be. Your blood pressure is high when it doesn’t have to. You’re stressed even though you don’t have to be. When you attempt to finish something you’ve started and it doesn’t meet your unfathomable gold standard then you beat yourself up (literally). Your anxiety takes over, you can’t sleep and you feel dirty because your objective wasn’t achieved. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. You Can't Work Well With Others
Not everyone shares your same level of perfection. Because of this, you can’t work well with others.
This dates all the way back to your high school days when you were assigned a group project with peers who didn’t replicate your behaviors. You would then decide to take over the project and handle it yourself to ensure that you would receive 100 percent and that your fellow students wouldn’t make a mistake.
Fast forward to today, and you’ve pretty much isolated yourself at work because you refuse to surround yourself with less than perfect colleagues. How alone you feel at times...
7. Constantly Disappointed at Life
You wake up and right away you’re disappointed at life. The weather, the traffic jams, the office landscape, the meals served at restaurants. Everything you come across in life makes you hang your head in shame. This makes you metastasize into a chronic complainer with a holier than thou attitude. Just because you have high expectations that doesn’t mean others should have to as well. Life is great because we fall but then learn to pick ourselves up. You should learn to do the same once in a while.
Although we tend to believe that perfectionists are successful people, the opposite is actually true. Procrastination, diminished productivity and a lonely lifestyle are just some of the things that a perfectionist has to contend with on a daily basis. If a perfectionist is able to overcome some of these characteristics then hope is not lost. The best solution for a perfectionist is learning how to deal with failure, errors and less than perfect human beings. It’s easier said than done, but it’s possible.
Are you a perfectionist? If so, how do you cope in life? Let us know in the comments section below.