We often think of perfectionism as a good thing. Don't perfectionists always excel at everything they put their minds to? But even though pulling off a lot of amazing feats is definitely something of which to be proud, especially in work situations, it can sometimes start to feel like we have to be perfect all that time — which, in fact, might be a sign that your perfectionism is sabotaging you at work. I know it sounds counter-intuitive; if you have a strong desire to succeed, you're organized, and you have high standards for yourself, wouldn't you want to shine in the workplace? Honestly, it's very likely that if you're a perfectionist, you do exceed in everything you do — but there can be a much darker side to perfectionism, too, and it's important to remind ourselves that we don't need to be infallible.
Being a perfectionist may mean you put an incredible amount of pressure on yourself. This may mean you strive too hard to achieve every single goal you put your mind to, including in the workplace. While we generally celebrate over-achievers and Type A personalities, it's important to remember that we are all only human, and we all make mistakes and, yes, even fail.
If your perfectionism is crossing into a negative territory, it can be helpful to look into specific sections of your life and evaluate from there. For example, it can be integral to see how your perfectionism affects your relationships with others, or how it affects the way you view yourself. The workplace is definitely one place where perfectionism may rear its head in an unhelpful manner. Here are a few ways you perfectionism might be sabotaging you at work:
1. It Can Prevent You From Turning In Work On Time
If the standards you set for yourself feel impossibly high, it's likely you'll end up dissatisfied with your work. Sometimes this means that you lament a project or assignment after you've turned it in and think of all the ways you could have done it better — but other times, it means you hold onto things past their due date, trying to pull it together in a whole new way. While it's great to always want to produce your best work, if your perfectionism is holding you back by preventing you from completing assignments on time or meeting deadlines, it's important to step back and find a new approach.
2. It Can Inhibit You From Working Well With Others
One of the dark sides of perfectionism is that it can inhibit your ability to work well with others. Seriously: While perfectionism can make you a great asset to the team because you double check details and make sure everyone has their role and goals, it can also mean you have a hard time sharing power with others or taking a backseat and allowing someone else to lead. No matter what field you're in, working well with others is an important part of being a team player and keeping the work environment happy and cohesive.
3. It Can Prevent You From Asking Questions
Perfectionism sometimes means you feel like you have to have all the right answers, just by virtue of being you. But it's OK to ask questions, especially if it's an area you aren't familiar with or if someone is teaching you a new skill. In fact, it's sometimes imperative to ask questions, because that's how people learn and retain new information. While it can be tempting to pretend that you have everything down pat with little assistance, it's simply not what others expect of you. It's OK to tell someone you need additional information or more learning time, even at work.
4. It Can Make You Reticent To Try New Things
If your perfectionism stops you from trying new things, period, that's definitely not a good sign. Everyone starts from scratch in some aspects of their lives, whether it's a professional skill or a new hobby, and it's OK to make mistakes while you learn. If your perfectionism makes you reticent to try new things or branch out in the workplace for fear of failure, this could end up ultimately damaging your career: Others around you may be developing new skills and specialities, while you're still in the same safe spot you were in before.
5. It Can Stop You From Enjoying Your Accomplishments
No matter how big or small, it's always important to step back and review the work you've done and celebrate yourself. Seriously: You've earned it! Sometimes celebrations come after big projects or assignments, while other times, it's just about getting it through the work week in once piece. Regardless to the specifics, it's important to recognize your own efforts and how much hard work you put into your job. If your perfectionism makes you feel like nothing is good enough, or that nothing is worthy of celebration, it might be time to cool your jets and give yourself some time to reflect and appreciate yourself, because at the end of the day, your mental health and self-esteem matter just as much as your final products at work.