Tuesday 18 July 2023

Ways to Overcome Perfectionism at Work

Many people see perfectionism as a way to be viewed as successful in their job, whether that’s through fear of seeming like a failure if everything doesn't go right first time or to gain respect from their peers. However, striving for perfectionism all the time can be extremely unhealthy for both your mental and physical health, depending on the job you do.

In many workplaces we are often criticised by colleagues or management for making mistakes as it can sometimes be costly and time consuming. This kind of relentless pressure can take its toll and can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and depression and can cause us to feel a lack of self worth. Not only this but striving for ongoing perfectionism can be exhausting.

Sadly, we live in a world where our lives are played out on social media and at the push of a button, we can remove our flaws and present an unrealistic impression of ourselves and our lives. Because we are continually being judged and scrutinised, we feel even more pressure to appear perfect in every way. Being at work is no different – we want to be perceived as a perfect human who succeeds in everything they do. But behind closed doors, we all know that this isn’t a realistic picture, and that can cause us to suffer from low self-esteem or even more serious mental health issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or eating disorders.

The impact of striving for perfectionism

Because we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, most of time to impress others, we are placing too much pressure on ourselves to be the best, to be respected, or to be admired and this is a recipe for unnecessary stress and anxiety. 

An article published by Healthline, states that "People [prone to] perfectionism hold themselves to impossibly high standards. They think what they do is never good enough. Some people mistakenly believe that perfectionism is a healthy motivator, but that’s not the case. Perfectionism can make you feel unhappy with your life. It can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harm. Eventually, it can also lead you to stop trying to succeed. Even mild cases can interfere with your quality of life, affecting your personal relationships, education, or work.”

So how can we shift our focus from being perfect to being happy and fulfilled?

  • Occupy your time with activities that make you feel happy to prevent overthinking outcomes at work.
  • Make a conscious effort to enjoy the process of a task rather than just focusing on the results as this can increase your motivation and relieve some of the pressure.
  • Try to let go of specific systems or routines that you might have put in place to ensure things are done a certain way and learn to be less rigid about structuring your work.
  • Accept that you are human and it’s okay to be less than perfect as we all make mistakes sometimes.
  • Instead of focusing on every little mistake, celebrate your successes instead.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others, you are unique and will have different skills and qualities to others.

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