Perfectionist or optimalist? - Pascale Landriault

Perfectionist or optimalist?

The people who are called perfectionists live in the illusion that perfection can be achieved. If perfection means doing one’s best, then there is hope. But pure perfectionists consider that anything below perfection is unacceptable. And in addition, in their eyes, there is always better, so they put themselves in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction.

Are you afraid of making mistakes?
Are you sensitive to criticism?
Are you afraid of failure?
Are you of the “all or nothing” type?
Do you have difficulty delegating?
Are you often dissatisfied with your work or others?
Do you have difficulty accepting your limits?
Do you tend to stubborn or contradict others?
Do you often experience stress or anxiety about a task?
Are you the type to judge you not to do enough or not enough?
Do you have a need to feel a sense of control?
Do you often say “I could have” or “I should have”?
Do you have difficulty asking for or receiving help?

If you answer yes to more than half of these questions, there is a good chance that you are suffering from perfectionism.

These people have the impression that if they are not perfectionists, they will become mediocre, nonperforming, even lazy. As if they had confused perfectionism with excellence or performance. They think that being perfectionists, even if they suffer, is the price of success and that they could never achieve their goals without this rigor.

Make no mistake, perfectionism comes with its share of imperfections …

• Low Productivity or Decreased Efficiency: Much time is spent on details, and over-investment in smaller activities at the expense of priority activities. We spend too much time getting results that are not always as good as we expect and we accumulate delays. It is difficult to make decisions quickly especially if you do not have all the elements in hand. One is exhausted in brewing air to want to do too well, and the result is often not optimal.

• Procrastination: we expect to be perfect before taking action. Yet an imperfect but suitable job today is better than a job indefinitely postponed. It is also by taking action and risking not being perfect that we make the greatest learning. The perfectionist considers the finished work to its level of requirement, so perfect, as a gigantic task. This can have an impact on his motivation by giving him the impression that the goal is difficult to achieve. He may also prefer not to do it at all rather than undertake it and experience failure or dissatisfaction with his performance.

• High stress: the feeling of always having to do more and to impose often unrealistic demands, to apprehend the future and the unknown, greatly influences the level of stress.

• Frustration: by dint of accumulating dissatisfaction with the feeling of never being at the height, the perfectionist lives his dose of frustration. It also tends to compare itself with others or with the image of perfection that it aims for itself, which feeds the feeling of frustration and can even go as far as giving it a distorted perception of its own value.

• Lack of creativity: because of its rigidity and its lack of flexibility and openness, the perfectionist remains “in his box” and does not allow himself to dream, to consider another perspective and to be inspired.

• Difficult relationships: Demanding towards himself and others, the perfectionist is not always a good companion for work or life. He can be unpleasant, irritable and contemptuous at his hours.

• Fear of risk and the unknown: the perfectionist, often too cautious, can miss opportunities that could allow him to progress. Since he would like to control everything, he does not feel comfortable to venture on the less traveled roads or in unknown land, limiting himself to experiencing rewarding experiences.

• Guilt: where does guilt come from? But not to be perfect, let’s see!

And as an ultimate reward, burnout can follow!

But the good news is that it can be remedied while remaining conscientious, becoming more effective and achieving inner harmony. Why not become an optimalist?

The optimalist, while seeking excellence and the best possible quality and having the will to do well and progress, agrees to make mistakes, knows how to nuance its approaches, knows and accepts its limits, is open to change and to external opinions, is dynamic and adaptable, sets itself reasonable and achievable goals, invests where he sees possible benefits. It benefits both the course and the destination.

To get on the right foot, let’s think of debugging software. It’s a known fact that almost without exception, a top-notch computer program can not be written “perfectly” for it to work without error the first time. Programmers must necessarily produce an initial version, make it work to see where it is encountering problems and produce errors, debug the code, test it again and refine it through many iterations to gradually approach the standard they want to reach .
Here are some ways to transform his perfectionism:

1) Become aware of its tendency to perfectionism, its expectations and its requirements (if you are recognized in this text, you have a good idea).

2) Evaluate the impact of this behavior. Is it useful to you? What are the consequences? What will it bring more to be perfectionist or remove not to be? If a task takes twice as much time to provide you with 5% more output, is it worth it?

3) Determine who one would be without perfectionism. What would be the benefits?

4) Make the decision to change. This may seem obvious, but without the real will and motivation to change, no results.

5) Identify and challenge your beliefs about perfectionism.
For example: I should not make a mistake.
Is it true?
What is the worst that could happen if belief is true?
What is the probability that this happens?
And if that happens, how can I live with it?
Will I have forgotten in 1 month?
Find 3 examples in your life that prove the opposite is true.

6) Explore the possibilities between everything and nothing; it is a very vast domain! What are the acceptable solutions?

7) Put yourself in the shoes of another person to get a different perspective of the situation or ask another person (not perfectionist!) His point of view on the situation.

8) Set more realistic and acceptable goals below the usual perfectionist requirements.

9) Establish a plan of action by breaking down one’s work into several small objectives (to avoid procrastination) and setting priorities for each activity and a limited time in order to guide oneself in the sufficient level of quality to be achieved.

10) Train to be flawed. Start by trying out small things and be aware of the impact on the outcome. For example, re-read an e-mail once before sending it, make a presentation by taking half as much preparation time as usual, leave a room in one’s house messy and invite someone.

11) Enjoy the good rather than the best.
The surprise that awaits us: the Earth continues to turn, the serenity and the satisfaction settle down cheerfully!

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