Avoid perfectionism

Perfectionists in particular need to be realistic. Type As are bugged by perfectionism. Always striving obsessively to achieve perfection is usually counter-productive. Many perfectionists believe that if perfection is not achieved, disaster is bound to result. It must be realized that the perfect and best’ result can only be achieved once in a lifetime. Striving to better your best performance each time leads to unnecessary demands, pressures, distress and feelings of failure if it is not achieved. Settle for your best effort and be content with what you have done. You probably will have produced a good and satisfactory job without ending up distressed.

Perfectionism as described here should not be confused with working conscientiously and diligently to achieve your best performance and good results, particularly where it is essential for tasks to be done correctly. So getting rid of perfectionism does not mean attending less to your work and making mistakes or producing poor performance. We describe perfectionists as those people who are obsessive about producing a 100 per cent absolutely correct piece of work in everything they do.

Why do perfectionists strive for perfection? We asked a self-confessed perfectionist to tell us about the advantages of perfectionism. She said, It sometimes produces an excellent piece of work which pleases me very much. Are there any disadvantages? we asked. She thought for a while and replied, Yes I suppose there are. I often worry about not doing a good job. This means I usually stick to techniques I know well so I hardly ever experiment with new ideas. I am self-critical, set myself high standards, get very upset if things are not turning out the way I want them to. Sometimes I spend such an incredible amount of time trying to produce a perfect result that I become agitated. Usually I end up settling for what I had achieved in the first place. In the meantime, I waste a lot of time and feel annoyed with myself.

Another key factor in planning and prioritizing is managing time. Learning the skills to manage your time effectively can reduce demands and increase coping ability, thus helping tip your stress balance into the eustress zone. Some aspects of time management are dealt with in the section on modifying and reducing Type A Behaviour (see page 173).

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