When conscientiousness evolves into perfectionism, it can end up doing more harm than good in your professional life.
Society can often fall into the trap of enthusiastically encouraging perfectionism in workers, thinking that obsessive attention to detail will produce the best-quality work and highest levels of productivity.
Yet, as we’ve repeatedly discussed here in the Careers section, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For one, perfectionism is often at the root of procrastination, which, for obvious reasons, will absolutely kill your productivity.
Also, multiple studies indicate that perfectionism can have seriously adverse effects on both mental and physical health. Research by the University of Kent in 2013 demonstrated that perfectionism is strongly linked to workaholism and depression.
A study from York University in Canada also revealed that new mothers with “socially driven perfectionist tendencies” are at risk for postpartum depression.
Not just damaging in a psychological sense, the University of Coimbra released research showing that perfectionists are more likely to experience sleep disturbances. These disturbances and the resulting sleep deprivation will increase the likelihood of experiencing other illnesses.
All of this should be avoided first and foremost because it’s important to take care of yourself.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, experiencing the kind of issues outlined above will almost certainly decrease your productivity, or even lead to you needing time off. So, it’s within your interest on those purely pragmatic terms to stamp out perfectionism.
It’s something easier said than done, sure, but luckily, CashNetUSA has compiled this infographic detailing some great ways to stop perfectionism from controlling your life.
You can use visualisation techniques to help you put things in perspective. If something hasn’t gone as planned within the context of a project, for example, it can be helpful to make a list of everything that went well so as to make it harder for your brain to disproportionately focus on the negatives.
It can also be helpful, for both your working life and personal life, to try to develop the ability to enjoy circumstances beyond your control. Maybe grab a friend and try a new activity you’re both very new to. You can both mutually bond over the clumsy stumbling at the start, and this more relaxed attitude towards your own outputs will hopefully bleed into your professional world with time.
You don’t have to sacrifice your conscientiousness to relieve yourself of perfectionism. It’s admirable that you would want to do a good job, but you’re far better off keeping yourself as happy and healthy as possible, as these are the circumstances that are most likely to lead to quality work that is indicative of your capabilities.
For some more methods to help get perfectionism under control, check out the infographic below.