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How perfectionists ruin their careers

By Nancy Nzalambi | June 9th 2019

Professionalism demands that you stay committed to being productive and turn in quality work. In most cases, we view perfectionism imperative to doing a good job.

However, focusing too much on perfect work may make you blind to the victories of today and end up making your career less enjoyable. Here is how perfectionism can ruin your career.

1. You gain reputation of a slacker

If you are the kind of person who needs everything to be “just right”, am sure you always find yourself taking too long to finish the simplest of tasks.

With time, meeting deadlines becomes a challenge with every task you are assigned to.  In the process, you end up driving yourself and your customers crazy when work is not turned in on time.

Taking too much time on simple tasks ends up hindering your long term productivity. To be successful in your career, you need to know how to use your time wisely.

Make the best of your time and avoid wasting valuable time of things that would not matter in the long run.

2. Tagged a non team player

Nobody else around them seems to understand why they strive for that perfect ending.

And for some reason, perfectionists have the answers to everything! This “know-it-all” mentality gets in the way of acquiring creative solutions and alternatives from colleagues.

It also interferes with the confidence to ask for help when needed. Perfectionists end up faking their way through challenging tasks and producing sub-standard work in the end.

Equally capable and talented teammates and colleagues are forced to tolerate your behaviour because they feel no motivation at all to work with you.

3. Lack flexibility crucial for leaders

Successful corporate leaders are sometimes faced with situations that require them to think on their feet and provide high impact decisions.

Perfectionism cripples that ability to think quickly without over analysing the problem at hand. It becomes difficult therefore for a perfectionist to quickly adapt to fast paced situations at work.

4. Perfectionism interferes with authenticity

It sounds cliché, but really, no one is perfect. Most perfectionists worry about how others will see or judge their actions and decisions.

Your authenticity will quickly fade away as you work hard to maintain a super hero image. Instead of worrying about how to lead perfectly, it is wiser to inspire others on the way you deal with your own imperfections.

5. Focus is on failure

It’s a miserable feeling to always think that something will go wrong if you do not always put your touch.

This form of self-torture makes you a slave for success but focused on failure. A negative comment on your achievements can easily shrink you and throw you into a roller-coaster of emotions making you ineffective too.

Strategies to help you overcome perfectionism

Learn to live in the present

Perfectionism makes you live in the future, with present mistakes having huge implications on your happiness.

That constant cautioning voice that plays to you all possible worst-case scenarios can put you on perpetual threat of putting more effort, more time into your assignments.


Sometimes you just have to trust that a colleague or teammate can deliver good quality work just like you do.

Delegating also allows you to train other people who may not be at par with you in terms of experience.

Reevaluate your expectations

Having high standards is always a good thing, but setting realistic expectations will keep you more grounded at work.

Experience is gained gradually. Allow yourself time to grow and learn more. Enjoy the process of growth and adjust your expectations when necessary.

Face your fears

Perfectionism will always keep you in fear of failure. Challenge yourself to do the things that make you uncomfortable.

Confront your fears and move past any negative feedback.

Find a balance

As much as you want to achieve the best, you have to be conscious of your mental health.

Celebrate and savour your little successes before moving on to the next step.

Recover from minor setbacks and appreciate them as part of growth.


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