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  • Writer's picture Lauren Malach

Five Ways To Work Around Perfectionism

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

We all want to be great at what we do. If you’re like me, you’d prefer to be great at everything you do. Ask anyone who’s started a new role at work, a new career or business—it’s grueling to be a beginner at something you really want to be great at.

We’d prefer to ALREADY be a great manager, a person who knows exactly what they want to do, knocking our goals out of the park EVERY DAY!

We’d prefer to be a master on day one.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

But, if you want to grow and evolve, you’re going to have to accept the imperfection of the learning stage. The learning stage can challenge our confidence. In this stage it’s hard to know if you’ll ever figure it out, if you’re doing a good job, if you’re doing it right, or if you’ll get to the next level.

In my coaching practice, I’ve observed that perfectionism is one of the leading obstacles to persevering through the learning stage.

There’s a difference between setting high standards and holding yourself to impossible standards. One motivates us and requires perspective and self-compassion, the other is demotivating and harsh. Perfectionism makes us think in all-or-nothing terms (either "you suck" or "you're perfect"), it makes us terrified of failure and it makes us procrastinate.

If you are being so hard on yourself that you are losing motivation toward your goal, you probably should ask yourself if your goal is realistic or not? If you are beating yourself up so bad that you don't want to "get back on the horse" tomorrow, it's time to ask if you are letting perfectionism get in the way of learning.

So what can you do when you’re outside your comfort zone and holding yourself to unrealistic standards?

Here are six tips for working around perfectionism:

  1. Avoid comparing yourself to others. This is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s junk science. It has no basis in reality.

  2. Hold the big picture. Why are you doing this? Why is this goal meaningful?

  3. Get help. Who can help you get better? A mentor, a friend? Is there someone you trust to watch your performance and give you constructive advice?

  4. Ask yourself, “what went well?" Remind yourself of your gains, even if they are small.

  5. Re-route your thoughts when you are judging yourself or others harshly. At those crucial moments, embrace learning and deliberate practice instead. Ask yourself: What can I learn? How can I improve?

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

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