is a sticky wicket. On one hand, upholding strict standards of excellence helps many people succeed in life
and work. On the other, that same striving for perfection can spin into a
paralyzing trap that halts projects, generates undue
stress for yourself and others, and zaps the joy out of life. Perfectionists
feel compelled to do everything at the same level of excellence, often driven
by a “If I can’t do this perfectly, I’m not going to do it at all” mentality.
giving up your perfectionist ways completely, try learning to apply “selective
perfectionism.” Learn the art of deciding which tasks need to be perfect and
which ones can just be “good enough.” Use Paredo’s “80/20 Rule.” Only 20
percent of your tasks need to be completed with absolute perfection; 80 percent
can be good enough.
Here are some tips to conquer the paralyzing effects of
Recognize degrees of excellence.
Practice doing one thing less than perfectly. Start with a lower-stakes
task, something that your rational mind knows doesn’t have to be
“perfect,” and allow yourself to do a so-so job. You may discover that
your version of “good” may be someone else’s version of “great.”
Back away. Recognize when you
reach the point of diminishing returns—the state in which you are spinning
your wheels, fixing things that weren’t broken, or second-guessing your
first instinct. Force yourself to walk away to get perspective.
Delegate the small tasks you obsess
over. Know your limits. If you are struggling with trivial tasks (like
the dishes, or inter-office memos), give them to someone who will not
obsess over completing them.
A deadline is a beautiful thing. And if one isn’t handed to
you, impose it on yourself. Perfectionists work well under pressure.