3 Quick Tips to Beat Negative Perfectionism
By nature, perfectionism sounds great. The drive to always perform, and not settling for second best or mediocrity can’t be a bad thing, right?
In reality, however, negative perfectionism is your worst enemy. Not only because perfection is impossible to obtain, but because it often leads to failure simply due to the fear of failing at a particular task.
Throughout college, you’ll likely feel the pressure to succeed, leading your inner-perfectionist to reveal itself on a regular basis. Below are a few tips for balancing your desire to do great work with your need to complete important, time-sensitive tasks.
1. Get Used to Being Uncomfortable with Your Work
If you’re a true perfectionist, you’ll never be 100 percent confident in your work. In fact, no matter how good you actually are, you’ll likely see yourself as second best.
To avoid these feelings, first realize that other people view your work with a completely different mindset. Most people are simply not as critical as you perceive them to be, and they’re not likely to judge your “second-best” work as harshly as you will personally.
This doesn’t mean you have to settle for mediocrity or start purposely diluting your work. It simply means you need to accept the fact that most tasks have a due date, and you have to do what you can with the time given. What you do in the that time is up to you, but sulking over ideals of perfect work won’t accomplish your goals.
2. Practice Self-Starting and Discipline
As a perfectionist, one of the toughest things to do is actually start and stick with a task. That may sound like the exact opposite of what you’ve thought a perfectionist to be, but most perfectionists are actually chronic procrastinators.
Getting over procrastination is a task in and of itself, but a great way to work around your perfectionism is to get in the habit of simply starting a task. Whether or not the environment meets your requirements for work, just give yourself a simple goal of starting.
That simple habit of starting tasks is called a “Dash.” It’s a great way to jumpstart your productivity and work on building the discipline needed to squash procrastination habits and excuses.
3. Try and Fail — A Lot
No, this doesn’t mean you should want to fail, or purposely submit mediocre work. Perfectionists, however, often feel defeated by minor failures, such as a mediocre grade or harsh criticism, and that can lead to less work getting done, missed deadlines, and even more failures.
In this case, trying is defined as working hard, meeting deadlines, accepting criticism, and moving on with a better understanding of yourself and the task. Creative types, such as students looking to get into art or writing, typically have the hardest time with this.
A fear of failure is not easy to overcome, but once you’ve accepted the fact that you won’t always be comfortable with your work, and begin practicing self-discipline, you can accomplish more high-quality work than ever before.