Six unexpected ways perfectionism makes you less productive

While perfectionism might have been encouraged when I was a  child, today we know better. The risks of burnout are evident. There are some other issues which I seldom discuss: the compulsive thought patterns and reduced creativity, being unable to delegate and progress the career ladder, the risk of choosing confrontation over collaboration and reduced socialization, the temptation to cut corners in tasks that are not deemed important… The author of this guest article was provoked to think of various ways perfectionism reduces productivity. I think you will find the result very interesting.


How Perfectionism Can Hinder to Achieve Your Goals

When we think of perfectionism, we usually relate it to persistence and hard work. The perfect research paper demands commitment, time, and a lot of hard work. This is true for many things in life. Today, however, I’d like to talk about the other side of the coin. Can you be too much of a perfectionist? Absolutely yes. If you overboard with your attempts to achieve perfection in everything you do, this bad habit will hinder you from achieving goals.

Let’s go through the negative aspects of perfectionism, so we’ll understand that the aspiration towards perfection is good only in moderation.

Perfectionism Decreases Your Self-Confidence

When you set an extremely challenging goal for yourself, you have to understand that the possibility of failure is greater than the possibility of ultimate success. If, for example, you set a goal to get perfect grades in all courses this semester, you’ll have to work on several term papers, learn everything from the exam material, and never miss a class. For most students, that’s not a realistic possibility.

Perfectionism makes them desperate. “I’m not as good as I thought I was. I failed. I’m useless.” That’s how a perfectionist would think. If you don’t allow perfectionism to hinder your self-confidence, you’ll have a much healthier mindset: “Okay, so I didn’t manage to write one term paper. I’ll just hire Rush My Essay and I’ll focus on the rest. I’ll be just fine.”

You should never allow failure to make you think less of yourself. Whatever the situation is, you can work towards improvement. Just believe in yourself, do your best, and give yourself some credit for the achievements even if they aren’t perfect.

Perfectionism Leads to Setting Broad Goals, Which You Cannot Measure

“I need to be perfect” translates to “I need to be the best.” This is a common problem with athletes. They strive for medals and their goal is to become the champions of the world. Whatever the discipline is, there is only one champion, and even they haven’t achieved perfection. Years from now, someone will be better than Usain Bolt.

“I want the perfect body” is not a measurable goal. Since you cannot see your progress towards such goals, you’ll never be satisfied with your performance no matter how hard you try. You need to set humbler goals. “I’ll train every day and I’ll lose 5 pounds in two weeks” is something you can measure. That’s the type of realistic goal that drives you towards real achievements.

Perfectionism Prevents You from Taking Risks

When you’re a perfectionist, you stick to what you know and do best. If, for example, you get one cake recipe absolutely perfect, you’ll want to continue making that same cake because you’ll be afraid of failure if you try something else. Perfectionists turn their desire to be perfect into fear of failure, which pushes them to stay in the comfort zone. When you think about it, this habit hinders their way to ultimate success.

Remember: success is based on trial and error. You have to try new things and set new goals for yourself, even if you don’t achieve them. The experience still makes you better.

Perfectionists Are Not Good at Time Management

Did you know that leaders didn’t like having perfectionists in their team? That’s a surprise… what wouldn’t leader want perfect work? Well, the problem with perfectionists is that they are really bad at time management. When they set a goal and they want to be perfect at it, they find it difficult to say “Okay, I’m done.” If, for example, a perfectionist starts writing a business report, they will always believe there’s more to research, more to write, and more to edit. They will want this document to be absolutely perfect, so they will keep finding things to improve. They will go back and forth, deleting sentences and bringing them back. They just never know when they are done. This prevents them from focusing on other tasks, so they are not perfect workers after all.

If you have this habit, it’s time to start recognizing the moment when your achievements are good enough. You’ll have to finish your projects at one point or another.

Perfectionists Are Not Good Team Members

It’s time to understand this once and for all: you cannot achieve everything by yourself. You have to rely on other people and you have to work on your collaboration skills. Perfectionists have a hard time realizing that. They set impossible standards not only for themselves but for other people, too. That causes tensions in the team since others aren’t able to live up to those expectations. This situation affects the performance of the entire team.

Teamwork is based on understanding other people and working together towards a common goal. Sometimes you’ll have to accept suggestions from the other members, even if they aren’t aligned with your perception of perfectionism.

Do you know what the best way to achieve goals is? First, you have to set realistic goals. Then, you need to turn them into practical steps. Then, you must start investing time and effort towards those goals, every single day. That’s not perfectionism. It’s called hard work, and it leads to results. Even if those results are not perfect, we’re still talking about achievements. It’s the progress that matters.



Brandon Stanley is a professional independent journalist. He is interested in writing articles concerning psychology and self-development. Apart from that, Brandon loves traveling and playing the piano. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter


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