Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Just Do It! Disarm your own perfectionist


This is the Editor’s Note that I wrote for 27th issue of Productive! Magazine. I hope it helps you look at the problem of perfectionism from a different angle.

Just Do It! Disarm your own perfectionist

I’ve been thinking lately about perfectionism. Laura Stack mentions it in her article in this issue of the magazine, too. It is quite a popular term to use and it has its place in the informal language. However, when one reads a little about this problem, it turns out that perfectionism is a really serious thing. It might lead to the loathing of yourself and others.

Can perfectionism help you?

Some people think that striving for perfection might be a good way to motivate ourselves for reaching ambitious goals. I wouldn’t agree. The desire to excel shouldn’t be confused with the desire to be perfect. My experiences and observations tell me that the latter only has negative implications. Paul Hewitt (PhD) from the University of British Columbia, and psychologist, Gordon Flett (PhD) have found that “perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems.”

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism means putting pressure on ourselves to meet high standards, which then strongly influences our self-esteem.

Don’t get me wrong — setting of high standards for oneself doesn’t have to be something dangerous. Getting outside our comfort zones is great and is the only way we can develop. However, every time a person wants to do something new or difficult and achieve a perfect result — she is going to suffer.

There are three stages of a perfectionists’ behavior — it is worth to taking a closer look at each of them to be able to deal with the problem:

It starts with the relentless striving towards really high standards for ourselves and/or others. We then judge our self-worth based mostly on our ability to achieve such ruthless standards. Finally, we suffer from negative consequences of setting such demanding goals, but we continue to go for them anyway.

It’s a vicious cycle, and a perfectionist can’t prevent himself from getting to the following stages of it. This makes him more and more frustrated, unhappy, and “toxic” to the people he is with.

Test yourself

If you feel you might suffer from perfectionism, you can check out some tests that are available online. You can also decide if you are one simply by asking yourself if setting high standards and striving for them makes you and people around you unhappy.

Ways to deal with the problem

Quote of the month

“If it weren’t for our ability to think logically and deeply, we humans might still be living in caves. But with every good thing comes the tendency to abuse it, and once you’ve turned on the machinery of thought, it can be hard to turn it off. Sometimes this leads to overthinking, which can cripple your productivity.” — Laura Stack

Question: How is your “inner perfectionist”? Does he disturb you and make your life harder?

Friday, April 24, 2015 /perfectionism/