Are you a true perfectionist? Do you set the bar high for yourself? Are you diligent and ambitious? Can you completely lose yourself in a project?
A certain amount of perfectionism is not wrong. It helps you to get the best out of yourself.
But perfectionism also has a dark side…
It becomes a problem if you constantly strive for the highest attainable in everything you do. In your eyes, failure is a mortal sin and you are therefore never satisfied with yourself. This takes a lot of energy and can ultimately lead to overstrain and burnout.
Perfectionism has got to do with a deep fear of failure and procrastination.
A positive form of perfectionism is when you work thoroughly. You do your best to deliver a good result, but know when it is enough. You can’t do more than your best. You will hear constructive criticism and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. You don’t worry too much and do your work with pleasure.
Negative forms of perfectionism are a hindrance, not an asset. In your eyes, something is never good enough because, let’s face it, it can always be better.
You can keep forever tinkering with things, but there is simply no perfection. You will not be able to withstand constructive criticism and will often be defensive. If you do not perform well you see it as failure, and with that, your self-image is affected.
Every time you, as a perfectionist, feel that you are failing, you disappoint yourself. Your self-image is largely dependent on the performance and appreciation of others.
Being a virtual assistant and perfectionism
So, how can perfectionism affect your work as a virtual assistant? In many more ways than you may realize!
Perfectionists often do their work with a great sense of responsibility. You find it difficult to let go of your virtual assistant tasks because you have a strong idea that something is not yet “finished”.
You have not achieved your (non-existent) perfection and are therefore very strict with yourself. You raise the bar higher and higher, resulting in even more “failures” and even less self-confidence.
Do you see the vicious circle here?
Perfectionists can make it very difficult for their environment
You invest so much energy and time in your work that you hardly ever spend time with your partner or family.
You feel that you are the only one who can perform your tasks properly and that is why you prefer not to delegate anything. This can cause problems with clients.
If you focus exclusively on your work, other, more important things like family time or a healthy lifestyle will be pushed to the bottom of your list.
I just want you to remember why you chose to work as a virtual assistant. It wasn’t for this.
How perfectionism affects your creativity
Perfectionism can also stunt your creativity. It’s hard to be creative if you think, “this is not enough, it could be better, it’s not what I had in mind,” for every attempt you make.
Does that mindset invite you to keep trying and to find solutions? Or does it make you want to hide and probably never want to try it again?
Creativity is all about trying, making mistakes, finding solutions, trying again, and so on. The best solutions often come from mistakes we have made.
Accept your shortcomings
Take it easy, you got this! You and your perfectionism can get along with each other with a bit of practice.
Nobody likes to make mistakes, almost everyone needs a certain level of control, and it is very human to want appreciation. Completely ignoring these fears is therefore not realistic.
Recognizing that you display perfectionist behavior is the first step to a perfectionism-free life.
This requires courage because as a perfectionist, you will have to accept your shortcomings.
The trick is to make sure you know when you can be satisfied and your work is good enough. If you can do this, you will deal with perfectionism in a healthy way.
You must realize that your perfectionist behavior is undesirable and that perfection is an illusion. The moment you realize this, you have already taken the first step.
The next step is to compete with the thoughts and behaviors that fuel your perfectionism.
But there is no need to do everything at once. Do it step by step, first one tip, tomorrow another, until they start becoming a part of yourself. You are creating new patterns here.
Here are 6 Effective Ways to Approach Your Perfectionism
- No black-and-white thinking: It’s not about everything-or-nothing or black-and-white. Be realistic and reasonable with yourself.
- Set realistic and achievable goals: Base this on your needs and what you have achieved in the past. When you reach a goal, set your next goal one step higher than the previous one. Let your sense of satisfaction not only depend on the result, but also on your commitment, the pleasure you have had, and how much you have learned. There is also value in the process that you go through to reach a goal.
- Make a schedule: By making a schedule, you force yourself to set priorities. Connect a time limit to the activities that you must do. This way, you reduce procrastination and you avoid having to spend too long on a task.
- Learn from mistakes and criticism: The greatest horror of perfectionists: making mistakes and receiving criticism. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Making a mistake is something human; everyone makes mistakes. Try to look more objectively at the criticism, but also at yourself. You can learn from criticism and mistakes. Give it a positive meaning: a mistake is a chance to grow.
- Stop comparing yourself to others: Everybody has a different history, different talents, and different circumstances. The only fair comparison is the comparison with yourself.
- Have perspective: As mentioned earlier, perfectionism has a lot to do with the fear of making mistakes. But how bad is making mistakes? When you notice that you are playing perfectionist again, it’s smart to think that your work does not determine your identity. Work is important, but not the most important. By putting the importance of a job in perspective, you can work more freely. And that’s why you started your virtual assistant career… remember?
To fight your perfectionism you will have to learn to let go of the need to get a perfect result, or to even know what the result is going to be! It’s about trust, trust that everything will go the way it should go and that you can do it!
A big part of trusting yourself is knowing you have the skills necessary for the job. In 90 Day VA, I teach you all the hottest skills business owners are looking for right now. You’ll walk out of it feeling confident, with a portfolio of killer work, and ready to rock!
Inge van Schooten is happy to be a virtual assistant, helping out business owners with their daily tasks so they can focus on what is bringing in their money. Her services include email and calendar handling, translation, content creation, managing Facebooks, and whatever else comes up. She is a member of 90 Day VA. To see all the services she offers and how she can help you out, check out her Facebook page.