Doing one’s best can lead to a lot of great things, especially in business. It results in career achievement, having a profitable business, and enjoying many other benefits. However, becoming a perfectionist to the point of exhaustion never did anyone favors. It’s possible to succeed, as we explain in our free webinar training, without letting it take over. Here are some possible reasons why perfectionism is taking over and how to stop it.
The Balance Small Business explains how having unrealistic expectations make it nearly impossible to meet. Furthermore, putting that type of pressure on yourself can lead to unnecessary stress. To prevent that from happening, you must be realistic that not everything is going to go perfectly. All you can do is learn from your failures and do your best.
Your expectations will be unrealistic and nearly impossible to meet:
One documented case of perfectionism is that of Jared Kant who, as a kid at school, was compelled to always erase a whole sentence if there's a mistake in one word. Jared often went to great lengths (erasing entire essays and tests) just to get rid of even the slightest mistake. Similarly, if you insist on striving to create a product that's utterly perfect, then you'll be saddled with a litany of demanding features that your team will need to develop. The concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) won't even appeal to your demanding sensibilities.
You'll be exposed to excessive levels of stress:
Because your benchmarks for success are unreasonably high, life basically becomes a ground fight between you and the stress you're placing yourself under. You'll be exerting so much effort at perfecting even the non-essentials, that finding opportunities to relax and get refreshed becomes non-existent. There's no doubt about it, you'll eventually burn out and the lows will be much lower.
No, contrary to what you believe, you don’t have to do everything yourself. You may think you have to do everything, but if you’re that way all of the time you won’t get a lot accomplished. Addicted2Success explains what you should do instead so you won’t get caught in this sort of trap.
Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:
If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.
The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.
The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.
Finding a balance between having a life and getting work done is challenging, which is why you should learn that you can’t do everything. If you don’t find a balance, you’re going to get burned out and then it’ll be hard to accomplish much of anything. Addicted2Success explains why work shouldn’t be your entire life because otherwise, it’ll be hard to stay motivated and love what you do for very long.
Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.
In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.
Just because you get the green light from people in your same line of business doesn’t mean you’re giving yourself the green light. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that it’s up to you to ease up on yourself and do the best that you can. It’s okay to ask for advice and learn from someone; it’s not a sign of weakness. Let’s see what else Entrepreneur has to say about this critical topic:
Feedback won't change internal expectations.
After deciding to start a business, most entrepreneurs draft a business plan and seek input from mentors, business coaches and other trusted business associates. Some entrepreneurs will appreciate the feedback from these people and will modify their business plan and implement it.
Perfectionists, however, may get defensive, feel discouraged, or may not ask for feedback at all because they consider that to be a sign of weakness. These are the first signs that a perfectionist may struggle as an entrepreneur.
Another thing perfectionists may do is delay the official launch of their business or program until it is “perfect,” which will realistically likely never happen.
In the meantime, while obsessing on the “perfect” product or plan, the entrepreneur is missing out on opportunities to sell, build a customer base, actually help more people and adjust the business plan as he goes and achieve greater success.
One of the most well-known entrepreneurs who was also a perfectionist is the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. Many things have been said about Jobs and his push for perfection. He endlessly tinkered with all of our now beloved MacBooks and i-devices and required employees to get his approval on every single detail of the Macintosh computer. He often had outbursts at employees and would fire people without giving it a second thought.
Had Jobs not been so wildly innovative — and had he not gone through a personal transformation — Apple likely wouldn't still be around today.
Blogger Wendy Maynard offers some excellent advice on how to counteract the perfectionist in you, and it has to do with actionable ideas and thoughts. Check it out:
Entrepreneurs: cure your perfectionism with action
Here it is: If you are engaged in an activity and start to obsess over the details or get frustrated because it’s not “perfect,” ask yourself questions such as:
“Instead of revising this one more time, can I generate more income if I were to spend the next hour on something else?“
“Instead of trying to do this all myself, can I get someone to help me finish it? It’s ok for me to delegate.”
Instead of telling myself that I am a bad person, how can I be kind to myself and finish this up so I can get it into the world?
Then, move into action.
Perfectionism holds you back, so let it go.
Taking action is what will allow you to reach the success you desire.
Imperfect action is always better than perfect inaction.
Finally, The Balance Small Business says something powerful, which is you won’t find true happiness trying to become “perfect” because perfection doesn’t exist. It’s easy to compare your business to the successful ones out there, but everything goes through hard times, and every situation is unique. So stop trying to base everything on your idea of perfectionism because it’ll only lead to stress and disappointment.
You won't find true happiness: While everyone wants a perfect life, a perfect spouse, or the perfect business, nothing of the sort has ever existed. It's merely your warped perception of how others live, that causes people to want to emulate the lives of others. Rather, well-balanced people tend to experience the most happiness throughout their lives. Not so for perfectionists, according to research professor Brene Brown. She concludes: if you want to be happy, stop trying to be perfect. In the fast-paced world of business, it's better to aim for excellence, than take the long shot to perfection. While it's possible you'll consistently benefit from striving to be perfect, the exceptions to the rule are few and far between. That's why they're called exceptions. Spending too much time perfecting a feature simply has no place in this era of agile business and smart product iterations.
Perfectionism doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to succeed! Come and join us during our free webinar training where we’ll reveal some secrets on how to create a profitable online business!
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