I don’t think anyone who knows me will ever use the term ‘perfectionist’ on me. I’m more often than not, described as easy-going and amiable. And despite my most recent role change from a FTWM (fulltime working mum) to a SAHM (stay-at-home mum), and having LOADS of time at home with the kids now, I gather that friends and acquaintances will never believe that I will ever evolve into a ‘tiger mum’.
The truth is, I probably won’t. 😅
You see, I care too much about things like ‘giving people space’, allowing people to ‘have choices’ and ‘going with the flow’. I don’t agree with oppression or dogmatic ways. To me, seeing people for their strengths makes much more sense than scrutinizing weaknesses and nitpicking. Too exhausting, isn’t it? But of course, I should put a disclaimer that if a suggested/imposed way makes things work better or safer, then please do as told. 😁
On being a perfectionist, my views shifted recently after I came across an article on HBR (Harvard Business Review) which struck a cord in me. The article talks about “how perfectionists can get out of their own way”. Clearly, I can’t be labelled as a ‘perfectionist’? But I feel at times that I do get in my own way, unfortunately, when I suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’ and over-analyze every minute, inconsequential thought so much so that I end up taking no action at all. And so I read on.
Perfectionists are motivated to make the absolute best choice. Great, this sounds a fair bit like me especially when it comes to work. I tend to keep things under wraps until it’s done deal or issue sorted out but sometimes it is tougher to not let people in on what we’re working on and get some help to push things along faster.
Perfectionists want to feel absolutely ready before taking on challenges. This can lead to holding back from advancement or leadership roles. Okay, holding back on anything cannot be good, which obviously includes going to the loo (just kidding 🤣), unless we are talking about holding back on saying something unkind for instance. In some wierd sense, I do get the feeling that I’m holding back on something, which in turn, is possibly one of the most annoying feeling ever. You feel like something is not quite in its place but can’t exactly pinpoint the problem. Maybe I should really just throw caution to the wind and go with the flow. Would meditation help?
One reason perfectionists are so strongly motivated to avoid small mistakes is because making them triggers their tendency to ruminate… Rumination is negatively-toned overthinking about situations that have occurred (in contrast to worry that’s overthinking about situations that might occur). Oh my goodness, can I say this is 99.99% spot-on for me?! In fact, I sometimes overthink about situations that might occur as well! The horrors of horror. But I have since come to the awareness that overthinking means I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind, which then also tells me that I should snap out of this with much-needed sleep like how I shared in an earlier post.
Lucky for me, this HBR article did good to provide some solace and offer ways to avoid the pitfalls of being a (newfound) perfectionist. It talks about a ready, fire, aim approach by tweaking thought processes and decision-making based on experience rather than from exhaustive research and deliberation. This is also known as heuristics or rules-of-thumb, and there is a balance achievable between the benefits of faster decision-making vs incremental gains from delaying action and continued thinking. The article also suggested asking ourselves how we can improve by 1%. This is about recognizing easier ways to improve and I gather, building on small wins so that they accumulate and eventually become the big prize.
P.S.: I love HBR articles for its balanced views and easy read. If you are interested in business psychology and management, you might want to take a closer look at HBR. The online version allows free email subscription to an array of business topics that sometimes cross into areas of personal effectiveness. You create a list of favourite topics via “Tip of the Day”, that feeds straight to your inbox to get inspired, coached and the opportunity to upskill on the go. Very awesome stuff.
Let’s he-ack it!