The Perfectionist Sabotage

When good enough is perfect

Published on May 19, 2011 by Dr Cathy

How many times have you heard someone say with pride, "I'm a perfectionist." Perhaps you are. Everything is done in great detail and very specifically. Perfectionists can produce wonderful work.

The problems with being a perfectionist

Perfectionism can both a curse and a blessing. Perfectionists can do high quality work. They can also not get work done because it has to be, well, perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. Attempting to make it perfect can drive the perfectionist, and those around them, crazy. It's also hard on the self image. You can do high quality work without the burden of perfectionism.

My step-father was a journalist and writer. He discovered, no matter how good his writing, there was always something he could improve. What he did was revise the article until he was satisfied and then had mom do the final editing. He said if he did the final editing there would never be a final copy. He had to meet his deadlines.

Being a perfectionist can cause problems in your relationships with your clients. Perfectionists are often rigid. Everything has to be done "just so." This attitude can result in hard feelings, especially if there is an implication that those not perfectionists don't value the work as much.

When you hold yourself to standards so high they take tremendous amounts to time to attain, you will likely run into not being able to complete projects. Many perfectionists are unable to achieve what they want in life because of unreal expectations of themselves and others.

The advantage of "good enough"

When I was working on my Master's in psychology, one of my classmates was devastated because he made a "B." He hadn't made a "B" since grade school. The rest of us were delighted with our grades because we learned what we needed and our grades were "good enough." In fact, by most standards, they were more than good enough.

Knowing when "good enough" is perfect is crucial. When writing, you need to get the message across in a clear and coherent manner. As a manager you need to be able to juggle many different projects at the same time. You need to know what is "good enough" and what is an unreasonable demand.

I'm not talking about have mediocre standards in what you do. I'm talking about being satisfied with something being rated on a 90-95% level rather than 100%. You can still have great pride in a project that is good enough.

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