5 Tips on How to Kick the Perfectionist Habit


Being a perfectionist is a state of mind, one which can lead to great things (look at the late Steve Jobs), but which can also rob you of your time and sanity. At its worse, perfectionism can be self-destructive – by getting you hung up on small tasks at the expense of the big picture, it can prevent you from ever getting the job at hand completed.

So, in honor of keeping the balance, let’s look at 5 practices that can help you overcome the perfectionist state of mind.

1. Perfection is Relative

We all have different perceptions of perfection. But who actually determines what perfection is?

The truth is, we’re all different, and we cannot all have the same abilities, outlooks, perspectives or goals. Without an absolute scale, the definition of perfection for any given job is relative. The important thing is to establish what, to you, is a job well done. Then, as long as you have done a job to ‘perfection’ on your own scale, you begin to set yourself free from the good opinion of others, and in that vein, free from their opinion of your work.

At the end of the day, if you love who you are and what you do, and you’re proud of how you do it, then you’re ‘perfect.’

2. Get It Done First

Doing a job well is important, but even the most polished piece or product won’t matter if it doesn’t make its deadline. Keep in mind that quality and time-to-execution are two variables that need to be weighed and accounted for – and that perfection will lose its luster if the timeline expires and no ones there to see it.

3. Perfection as a Motivational Tool

Perfection isn’t inherently negative. In fact, perfection can be a strong motivator in pushing you forward – the trick lies in knowing where to draw the line between destructive and productive thinking. For instance, you can keep yourself motivated by aiming for perfection but keeping your goals and perspective within reason. By setting small deadlines – or mini-deadlines within the timeline for a given task – you can allow yourself to aim for perfection within that deadline. The task then becomes to let it go when you hit the deadline, and learn to control your perfectionism ego.

4. Stop Procrastinating

It’s interesting to note that perfectionists are often procrastinators. The desire for perfection can lead to procrastination until the one procrastinating has found the ‘perfect idea.’ To overcome this tendency, learn to get started on projects right away, and then come back and revise them later.

5. Do the Best for You, Not for Someone Else

Getting in the habit of constantly comparing oneself to peers and competitors can quickly become self-destructive. Rather than assuming right away that their approach was better, continue to measure your work on your own terms. Instead of comparing yourself to others, why not compare yourself with yourself? Why not see what you can improve on from your last project? Setting and trying to beat your own standards is a better way to grow and improve while staying aligned with your core talents and processes.


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post for TrackVia by David Gitonga


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