Are You A Perfectionist or Do You Just Have High Standards?

blog Apr 27, 2021

Have you ever been called a perfectionist? Or, has someone told you your standards are too high?

Let’s talk about the difference between having high standards and being a perfectionist.

One is great and can really fuel you into success. The other can completely derail you and hold you back. We all want to be successful at work and life, all while feeling organized and stress-free. If that wasn’t the case, then you wouldn’t be reading this right now. 

Many might think perfectionism and ego are related, but they are NOT. Being a perfectionist does not mean you are working on a project until it is completely perfect to you.

Perfectionism is completely based in fear. 

That's all perfectionism is... it is fear of not being enough, fear of what other people will think about you, fear of doing something you might not be good at, fear of failure. And because perfectionism is so fear-based, it is what completely prevents you from moving forward and succeeding.

So think about it. Let's say you are starting on a new project.  You want to finish it in 5 days but 5 days later you are still tweaking it.  2 weeks later you are still making more adjustments.  2 months later...you still have not finished it because you don’t think it is perfect.  

You refuse to share your work or call it “done” because you fear that someone will say it isn’t good enough. 

Now, let’s talk about high standards.

High Standards can propel us forward. 

When we have high standards, we are setting big goals for ourselves.  Let’s look at an athlete for example.  If an athlete competes in the 50-yard dash, they will likely set new standards of faster and faster times as they practice and compete.  Those standards propel them to continue to train and work hard.  They do not prevent them from competing.  

Having high standards does not prevent you from actually doing the work or moving forward. It propels you to work harder and do those scary things that we were afraid to do before. 

Another subtle difference between perfectionism and high standards is how you view outcomes that are not what you hoped for.  

A perfectionist will be unhappy with themself and feel like a failure.  Someone with high standards will be unhappy with the outcome, not themself.  Being unhappy with yourself prevents you from moving forward.  Being unhappy with the outcome propels you into action to create a different outcome.

If you are struggling with perfectionism, here are some tips to help you: 

  1. Acknowledge your work and what you have accomplished
  2. Define “done” for your project before you start so you when to stop tweaking and “perfecting.” 
  3. Watch your self-talk.   

I would love to hear your takeaways on this!  Leave a comment below.

Please follow me on Facebook and Instagram at Megan Sumrell for getting on top of all things, time management, organization, and productivity. You can also go to https://www.megansumrell.com/podcast and listen to my podcast on the two things you really have control over!

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