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Updated on August 12, 2020

How to Change your Mind Set from Perfectionist to Optimalist

Perfectionism can be described as ‘an irrational desire to achieve but at the same time being overly critical of oneself and others. This belief has been made worse by the messages and photos placed on social media showing other people’s so-called perfect lives. The relentless stream of beautiful people with seemingly perfect lifestyle trick us into thinking that what we do or have defines who we are.

This mind set leads us to constant self-criticism and constant worry that are being left behind or that we are not measuring up compared to our friends. We show signs of self-doubt, anxiety, stress, burn out, eating disorders or even depression.

Click to view TED video on Perfectionism holds us back

Try to shift your mind set from that of a Perfectionist to that of an Optimalist. Optimalists are people who also work as hard for success, but they are more flexible and adaptive in the pursuit of their goals. This mental attitude makes them happier and more productive in their workplace. 

Here are some tips to help your transit from a Perfectionist to Optimalist

1. There is no such thing as perfect. Do not be misled by the illusions created on social media of their ‘perfect lifestyle’. That photo is only one moment in time and does not show the hard work, mistakes made, or sacrifice required to get there. The success popular game Angry Bird came about after over 1,000 failed attempts!  

2. Perfectionism is NOT sustainable.  You can achieve perfection at your work or sports, but this does not last forever. Look at the Olympic Gold Medalists who have sacrificed 4 years of their life to work so hard to achieve 1 objective. It is, however, very rare to maintain the standard for ever and as such, learn to enjoy the journey while you work hard.

3. Not everyone is perfect. Do not forget that for every gold medalist in a sport, there are thousands of sportsmen who have also participated but did not make it. But this does not make them any less of a person or a failure. They can be proud to have been chosen and represented their country.

4. You do not need to be perfect to be liked or accepted by your co-workers. Being a generous and helpful team player is more important to a company. Happy team dynamics are more productive than a fragmented team.

5. Don’t let perfectionism consume you. Do not be fooled to think that we can only find satisfaction through status, money or position in the company. Take time to appreciate each milestone you have reached in your work and be grateful with what you have achieved. Do not ruminate over your mistakes or missed opportunities. 

You can beat perfectionism by pursuing the things that you love and learning from your mistakes along the way.  In this way, you will be more resilient and derive more satisfaction from the achievements you get during your career.  

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