The modern world has brought about very many modern pressures, with one of them being perfectionism. In the drive to do more and reach greater success, people have adopted this all or nothing approach. Unfortunately, the result is often burn-out, and frustrating the hell out of family, friends or colleagues who don’t share the same expectations as you.

Sure, we expect employees to give 100% effort in everything they do, but your 100% is just not the same as everybody else’s 100%, just look at the varying work ethic in the workplace today.

There are two kinds of perfectionism:

Adaptive perfectionism is characterized as a normal, healthy type of perfectionism and is defined by deriving satisfaction from achievements made from intense effort, but tolerating the imperfections without resorting to the harsh self-criticism.

Maladaptive perfectionism is defined by having high personal performance standards and tendencies to be extremely self-critical in self-evaluations. Maladaptive perfectionists possess a need to control their environment and when events do not go as planned, they develop negative attitudes.   They approach their work with an assertive nature and believe that they must achieve goals in their own way. 

It’s important to understand the difference between maladaptive perfectionism and a healthy quest for success. Maladaptive perfectionists see mistakes as unacceptable, as they think that these lead others to see them as incompetent.  By contrast, people striving for excellence in a healthy way see mistakes as an opportunity to grow; they understand that mistakes are part of the learning process, and they accept them.

See tips to manage your negative perfectionism traits

Set Realistic Goals

Perfectionists often set goals so high that there’s little hope of achieving them. Instead, learn how to set realistic goals.

Listen to Your Emotions

Whenever you’re feeling anxious, unhappy, or scared about a task, ask yourself whether you’ve set your goal too high. Your emotions may be telling you that you’re trying to achieve an unrealistic goal. Remember that your thoughts influence your mood and, often, your actions. Affirmations can raise your self-esteem and reprogram your thinking. Remember, you always have a choice in what you think and do.

Don’t Fear Mistakes

Mistakes are part of life. They can even provide rich learning experiences, if you have the courage to examine them. Your mistakes can teach you far more about life and your abilities than your successes will.

Adjust Your Personal Rules

Perfectionists often live by a rigid set of rules. These rules could range from “I must never make mistakes” to “There must never be a crumb on the kitchen countertop.” Although it’s healthy to have high personal standards, they need to be flexible and helpful, not unrelenting and unrealistic.

Focus on the Whole

Perfectionists often exhibit “tunnel vision”: they focus on one small part of something and ignore the rest. Challenge this by making an effort to look at what you’ve done right. Don’t focus exclusively on the negative!

Watch What You Tell Yourself

Whenever you tell yourself that you “must,” “should,” or “shouldn’t” do something, pay attention to how this demand makes you feel: perfectionists often use these words when they’re setting up personal rules. Be careful using these words in your thinking; they can often lead you to create unrealistic expectations.

Relax and Be More Spontaneous

Perfectionists often find it difficult to relax and be spontaneous. Relaxation and spontaneity are not only necessary for a healthy life, but they can also improve your productivity and well-being.