The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

Let's talk about the not-so-perfect aspects of perfectionism...pitfalls of perfectionism that could negatively impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism


Perfectionism is the rejection of any standard short of perfection. 

But you know what? It's a tendency that can stem from a completely wholesome motive - the desire to be the best you can be. 

Yet, things don't always turn out perfectly for perfectionists. So let's discuss the pitfalls of perfectionism...


Pitfall No. 1


One of the greatest pitfalls of of perfectionism is that you are bound to be disappointed at some point. How so?

Because, as humans, we are inherently imperfect. But with perfectionism, the mind and heart insists that everything must be done perfectly. So you will face a struggle, as you try to do something that is basically impossible. But there's more...


Pitfall No. 2 


Another pitfall of perfectionism is that you waste time. So much time.

You might think that perfectionists are always the best person to do the job. Maybe, but not necessarily.

One of the main problems with perfectionism is that you take extra long to do everything.


Consider the difference in the way a conscientious yet non-perfectionist person completes a task in comparison to a perfectionist. 


A non-perfectionist: 

1. does some thinking thinking to start off with,

2. takes decisive action,

3. then gives their work a brief check at the end.


A perfectionist, on the other hand, draws this process out greatly.


Due to fear of failure a perfectionist spends a looong time thinking before they can even touch anything.

You might thinking: "Oh that's great - it's awesome to be so meticulous."

But not really.


True perfectionism is characterised by overdoing things, which leads to time wastage. That's not so good.


1. First a perfectionist goes through an elaborate pre-action thought process.

2. Then they hesitantly start execution.

3. Before conclusion, a perfectionist spends excessive time repeatedly checking over every single action they took. (Normally it doesn't take too long to know if you're on the right course, but a perfectionist often doesn't trust themselves and struggles with moving on to the next task).


Now if you've got the whole day to complete a basic task, this might work just fine. But for a lot of situations, time is a constraint. This means that you should ideally try and find the quickest yet most accurate way to get stuff done.


Spending a lot of time thinking and checking helps to ensure accuracy, but often, a person who does a brief check comes to the same result as a person who is unnecessarily slow and repetitive. 


Who is ultimately more successful? The person who is quick, confident  and careful or the perfectionist who is doubtful and slow?


This is why perfectionists tend to struggle in situations like exams. Is the material the problem? No. It's more about the struggle with time management. I actually wrote a post about perfectionism and time management a while ago.


Reviewing your work is absolutely something that everyone should aim to do. But checking over the same thing 8 times is not more advantageous than a brief review. It hinders more than it helps.


Pitfall No. 3


What's another pitfall of perfectionism? I think there's an obvious one that's probably crossed your mind.


Stress. 

A perfectionist's approach to physical issues is transferred to his/her mental space.

Just as perfectionist finds it difficult to be efficient and simple in the execution of a task, a perfectionist often struggles to gain mental clarity.

It's very common for perfectionists to be particularly terrible with overthinking, which can include exploring every crevice of the universe to find potential problems. Overthinking, of course, creates stress and robs a person of peace.


Pitfall No. 4


The final pitfall of perfectionism that we'll discuss is how it causes stress for others. 

For example:

I'm sure you can imagine just how much tension can develop in a group project if someone in the group is a perfectionist and is very vocal about how they expect things to be done.

  • A perfectionist may be be restless and unknowingly bossy, which could create an unpleasant atmosphere.
  • Perfectionism can also cause a person to become upset when others do not show the same enthusiasm for their lofty standards.


An unhealthy view of the world and an off-balance perception of how things should be done can cause tension in relationships with others. No one likes being weighed down by unrealistic expectations.



So, these are some of the pitfalls of perfectionism. Being aware of these can help us to be more balanced in the way we live, work and interact with others!

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