3 Surprising Ways Perfectionism
Contributes To Burnout
If you are experiencing burnout once again - you might be wondering, “Why does this keep happening to me!?”
My guess is you are smart, capable and driven. You spend a lot of time chasing your goals and dreams and planning your time to make sure your maximize productivity. You probably have a to-do list a mile long, and a planner or calendar that has zero white space. Does this sound familiar? If it does - keep reading for three surprising ways perfectionism is contributing to your burnout.
The Cycle Of Burnout
The cycle of over achievement followed by burnout is almost as exhausting as burnout itself. You might get so excited about a new venture that you pour your heart and soul into it. After weeks of investing time and energy, perfecting every little detail - you find yourself worn out, unmotivated and detached. If this sounds like you - you’re likely experiencing burnout as a result of perfectionist tendencies.
The great news about this type of burnout is you can absolutely overcome it! A few simple shifts in mind set, strategy and pacing will have you back to being motivated - but with balance - to achieve your goals and dreams.
As a Life Coach, I often work with clients who are experiencing a cycle of over achievement followed by burnout, and I’d like to walk you through the exact process I use to get my clients back on track to living their best lives.
The first step I take with my clients is to identify which of the 3 Perfectionist Tendencies is directly contributing to their burnout - so we can cut burnout off at the source.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionists are often highly intelligent, driven and detail oriented individuals. This can lead them to get stuck in a cycle of unrealistic expectations, followed by excessive effort that leads to burnout.
The good news is there are clear tendencies that all perfectionists exhibit that directly lead to burnout. We just need to identify which is the biggest contender for you - so you can identify the behaviours that are leading to your bouts of burnout.
Ready to get started? You can download the guide to identifying your personal traits and follow along here:
Trait #1 - Fear of Failure
This is the most common perfectionist tendency I see that leads directly to burnout, and it is a huge factor for all perfectionists. No one (and I mean no one!) is going to live their live without experiencing failure, and the tendency to avoid failure at all costs will wear you down sooner rather than later.
The main reason I see people experiencing a fear of failure is that they attribute their value as an individual to how well they can meet or exceed other people’s expectations. Therefore, if they don’t meet those expectations, they don’t feel worthy of love or praise.
This can be such a slippery slope as the concept of guessing someone else’s expectations is very subjective. You may think your boss expects you to bring on eight new clients this month (because you did last month and he was pleased). However in reality he might be very pleased to see five new clients come aboard and completely understand if you just recruit three. Will they think less of you if you recruit five clients instead of eight? Probably not. Will you wear yourself out trying to constantly push the bar? Yes.
Trait #2 - Unrealistic Expectations
The second trait that often links perfectionism to burnout is setting unrealistic expectations. These can be for yourself, or for others - and often set you up for burnout through disappointment or an excessive energy/time investment that leaves you drained.
In my practice I often see goals that aren’t unrealistic at all - but the timelines my clients try to introduce make them unattainable. Remember that everything doesn't need to be done right now.
If something is really important to you, break it into smaller pieces or sub goals and work on those one at a time. Making steps instead of a mountain leads to more balance, and much deeper learning along the way.
Trait #3 - All or Nothing Thinking
All or Nothing Thinking, also known as Black or White Thinking, is a huge limitation for perfectionists. It leads you to think in extremes (right or wrong, good or bad, enough or too little) and leaves no room for changing factors or flexibility.
Often these extremes directly apply or take away value, a huge trigger for perfectionists (Example: You are either “smart” or “stupid”, you either “won” or “lost”). This leads to burnout by attributing value to “favorable” outcomes and ignoring any progress made in the process through new learnings, interactions or ideas. Focus on the gains in your life, what you have achieved - instead of the gaps between your expectations and the actual outcome.
As a coach, I see a lot of all or nothing thinking that stems from time in school. Clients attribute self worth to performance very quickly, and leave little room for flexibility (example: “I got an A on that test so I am smart or “I only got a B on that test so I am stupid”). It’s easy to carry this framework forward and start applying it to adult life.
So What Does This Mean For You?
The great news about all these examples is they are simply traits. You can choose to have them as a part of your personality - or you choose to replace them with other elements. If you are sick and tired of experiencing burnout as a result of fear of failure, unrealistic expectations or all or nothing thinking, bringing an awareness to these behaviours is the first step in banishing burnout.
I would highly recommend you make an action plan immediately to capitalize on the motivation of momentum if you are serious about making change. You can download my free worksheet to help you identify which factor is the biggest contributor to your burnout below:
I hope this article showed you the clear connection between perfectionism and burnout - and you can now accept that burnout isn’t your fault, it's just a result of how you are currently thinking.
There are ways you can change your approach to avoid burnout, and an action plan is key to making sure that change happens. Check back tomorrow for a Part 2 of this series - including specific ways to fix each of these Perfectionist Traits so you can create your own tailored action plan.
Remember to stay curious, experiment with practice, introduce flexible goals, and try thinking in degrees are key to your success!
Don’t forget to download your Free Worksheet.
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