Perfectionism takes striving to a new level.  It increases the chances of setting unattainable goals, never feeling good enough and not being able to switch off.  It is much more strongly associated with chronic stress, burnout, and with a range of mental health disorders.

While they remain in a work environment that desires perfect, and without the right support or personal coping strategies, Perfectionists may cycle through stress, burnout and mental health issues for a considerable part of their working lives.  Apart from being deleterious to their own health, it may also impact on the work and health of their colleagues, and if they are in senior roles, may become the standard applied to others.  Inability to delegate work to others and micromanagement may be signs of Perfectionism.

Perfectionism increases the likelihood of overworking, spending too much time at work even though it doesn’t guarantee success – in fact may paradoxically erode success.

We need to call out the downsides of striving for perfection, to stop it cycling, as shown below, into negative outcomes.

Organisational wellbeing programs would be better placed focusing on:

  • Reducing or eliminating goals that are unattainable, ones that set everyone up to strive too hard
  • Increasing the recognition for effort in the right direction as well as goal achievement, so that people place better value on their contributions and acknowledge that what they have achieved is good enough
  • Help people to switch off – stop expecting overwork and valorising workaholism, express the value of taking breaks during the day, at the end of the day/week/month etc.

If you have perfectionistic tendencies, then do the above for yourself, and give yourself the break you need.

You might also like to read my blog on Organisations taking more responsibility for burnout. 

Cycle model of three ways your perfectionism may be working against you
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