Does perfectionism hold you back?


I have coached many people who define themselves as perfectionists. They approach me because they are struggling to move forward with their career for fear of making the wrong decision.

Perfectionists do not want to ‘fail’. They often want to ensure that any decision they make is absolutely perfect before proceeding with it. However, the only way they will know if their decision is right is by giving it a go and taking a risk. This turns into a catch-22 situation and the decision making process becomes extremely difficult and stressful.

It is really important to be aware of when perfectionism is helping you move forward and when it is hindering you. It can be a great characteristic for doing work brilliantly (although it can be unrealistically expected of individuals) but it can also hold you back from making decisions and attempting new things. For example, delaying a career change for fear of failing or choosing not to apply for a job because you believe other people will be better than you.

If you feel perfectionism is holding you back, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • How can you make it better?
  • What small step can you take now to bring you one step closer?

Also, have a think about the standards you are setting yourself. Are they too high?

Always set standards that are high, but achievable. Setting standards that are too high can be like setting yourself up to fail. How about lowering the bar, making your goals something you know you can and will do rather than something that is always beyond your reach.

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