When you are a high achiever, you find yourself getting stuck on things that are really simple. Have you ever wondered how you could overcome the anxiety of perfectionism?
What some perfectionists say
In this post, I’m going to share 3 tips that will help you push past the anxiety of perfectionism that stops you and causes you to procrastinate on your projects.
When I talk to my clients about their projects, they often have the same objections to moving forward. They think that their objections are unique, but what they don’t realize is that they are very common to the group of high performing, high achieving individuals like themselves.
If you’ve made it this far, you are probably a high achiever.
You want things done a specific way. You spend a lot of time, thinking and sometimes obsessing on the details of what you want to accomplish. You over plan and then get stuck in the middle of your action. Sometimes, you can’t even seem to start, until you are under pressure. There are even times when you feel as though you could be standing in your own way.
Two things that you must realize about anxiety and perfectionism
While this is very common, I need to tell you that it’s not healthy. First, you are training your brain to believe that this is the best way for you to do things. You are making yourself believe that this is the “way” of a high achiever. This is why you say that you do your best work under pressure. I don’t believe it is true. It is just what you are used to and your brain has met you for the challenge of producing your best under pressure.
Second, you are putting your body under a lot of unnecessary stress. You’re causing your blood pressure to rise and, emotionally, you become anxious. This places your body in a state of heightened awareness that induces the fight or flight response. Your body begins to release powerful hormones, as if you are in danger or in need of help, like adrenaline, causing your heart to race and your breathing to speed up. Your body begins to feel like you are in a race, your brain needs more oxygen and something needs to happen.
As the two, your body and mind connect, saying that you either need to run away or fight your way through this. The fight becomes how you do you work and why you think you do your best. The flight becomes why it feels so hard to actually complete the project or task. If you’re following me through this process, then you are beginning to realize the problem. You are beginning to visualize this process that you often put yourself through.
The problem with this is that, you can do well in physical situations feeling this way. You can even do well for a short time, in emotional or mental situations feeling like this for a little while, but over time, your body overpowers you’re mind and you can get stuck in the “what do I do” zone of things.
This is why you must develop habits, procedures, and processes to avoid working under this type of pressure all of the time.
You can be a healthy high achiever, if you learn how to overcome the anxiety of perfectionism.
Three ways to overcome the anxiety of perfectionism
Step 1: Avoid
Yes, I said avoid. I know that you are trying to get out if avoiding things, but you must avoid this one. Don’t allow yourself to overcommit, overextended yourself, or to feel pressured into doing anything. If you feel overwhelmed when saying yes to doing something, you must take a moment away to properly evaluate whether or not you have the time, energy, or resources to complete what is being asked of you. If you find that you can, do it, but make sure that you aren’t committing out of feeling guilty or obligation.
Step 2: Commence
Commence is a powerful word that means to start. I chose this word because it helps you to remember that you need to get started early if you want to conclude or finish well.
Give yourself time to think through the process. There is nothing wrong with you overthinking and over-planning. In fact, the “over” part is what makes you a high achiever. I’m just encouraging you to do what you do best in better blocks of time.
Instead of constantly being in crunch time, you must give yourself an adequate amount of time and the permission to fully think about what you are doing and will have to do. I say this because I want you to embrace the fact that you do things at a high level. There is nothing wrong with that. I fact, it is great, but I’d like to encourage you to focus your energy intentionally and strategically.
If a project normally calls for a six week planning process, give yourself eight to ten weeks to plan. Truthfully, you know that you’ll need an extra week to gather all of the tools that you feel you need during the process. You’ll also need an extra week at the end to double check everything prior to moving on to the next step.
Realize that all of the extra planning, when done correctly, makes the execution of the process smoother and more efficient.
Step 3: Tackle
This is where you have to take action and follow through on all that you’ve thought about. Just like the previous step, you must give yourself enough time to do the work.
Don’t compare yourself to other people or your process to another’s process. Be careful as to whom you listen to, making sure that the standards you are following come from other high achievers, like myself, that have already pushed past the struggles that you experience and have developed ways to help you progress.
In the tackle stage, I want you to spend your time and energy focusing on how to fully execute your plan. If you have to go though it with a fine tooth comb, do that. Just make sure that for every opportunity you take to review the plan, you take an equal, if not greater amount of time, executing that portion of the plan.
If you take the time to A.C.T, you will find that you will not deal with certain things emotionally or mentally because your process will enable you to perform at your best, in a healthy way.
You can overcome the anxiety of perfectionism, if you A.C.T properly, effectively, and intentionally.
Apply this to everything you do and you’ll find the results you’ll get to be extremely satisfying. You’ll also love how you feel about the process.
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Thanks for reading and don’t forget to A.C.T.