3 Ways To Overcome
The Perfectionist Tendencies Causing Your Burnout
If you caught yesterday’s post, you got key information on exactly which perfectionist tendencies are causing your burnout. Knowledge is definitely power - but how can you use this knowledge to make a meaningful change in your life?
Today I’m covering specific fixes for each of the perfectionist tendencies I mentioned in yesterday’s post:
- Trait #1 - Fear of Failure
- Trait #2 - Unrealistic Expectations
- Trait #3 - All or Nothing Thinking
So if you’re ready to regain control of your mind, expand your horizons and stay consistent with your goals - keep reading. I’m pouring all of my experience as a life coach into this post so you can create an action plan to banish burnout once and for all.
Love a free printable workbook? Me too. That’s why I created this Banishing Burnout Workbook - so you can lay out your plan and stick to it! Grab your copy here:
What is Perfectionism?
In case you missed yesterday’s post, I’m going to quickly recap what perfectionism is and how it contributes to burnout. If you’re all caught up - please feel free to skip to the first fix!
Perfectionists are often highly intelligent, driven and detail oriented individuals. Does that sound like you? Yay! I’m glad you’re here! Their determination and work ethic can sometimes swing to the extreme - causing 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 - implement the quick fix I provide below - and you will be well on your way to having a strategy in place for reaching your goals with a balanced, but still highly effective approach.
Trait #1 - Fear of Failure
Do you often find yourself telling people ahead of an interview, event, race or project that you probably won’t succeed just to lower their expectations? Do you avoid embarrassment like the plague? Do you secretly dream up goals behind closed doors but never share them with a soul?
You might have fear of failure. But don’t be alarmed, this is the most common perfectionist tendency I see that leads directly to burnout - and it is a huge factor for all perfectionists. Why would you want to put yourself in a situation where you wouldn’t come out on top? Where there wouldn’t be external validation of your intelligence, capability and value? Two word folks - personal growth.
How to Fix Fear Of Failure
There is only one way to overcome a fear of failure - and you guessed it, it’s by failing. You have to be able to show yourself that if you fail at something, you are still the same person you were - just with a new lesson learned. You are not any less of a success, or any less of a person just because things didn’t turn out as you anticipated.
I would suggest getting comfortable with failure on a small scale before you jump in with both feet. Set up small experiments in your life where you aren’t able to predict or control the outcome. An example might be asking your facebook followers for feedback on your new blog graphics or headshot. You can’t control their responses, and you might learn something really valuable from their feedback. Think of a couple of small experiments you could try in the next week so you can practice giving up control of the outcome and opening yourself to failure.
When I’m working with a client who isn’t ready to start there - I suggest they do some research. You can do the same - find out about mentors and gurus in your field who have overcome personal failures, and learned valuable lessons along the way. You would be surprised at how many individuals failed, and hit rock bottom, only to claw their way back. Sterling Griffin is a name a lot of people know - but do you know the stories behind his success? He was homeless and ended up selling his car while he was building his health coaching practice! Find inspiration and strength in other’s stories - then get out there and start living your own.
Trait #2 - Unrealistic Expectations
If there was one trait I resonate with personally - its unrealistic expectations. In the height of my perfectionism, I didn’t even consider what might be a realistic timeline or outcome when I sat down to plan a project. I just included every single element that would lead to personal validation. Of course this lead to me feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and frustrated that I couldn’t “get it all done” - but honestly, no human could have!
Looking back I can see that many elements of my goals weren’t unrealistic - but the timelines I placed on them were way out of whack with reality. 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.
How to fix Unrealistic Expectations: Play with Flexible Goals
The concept of flexible goals can be uncomfortable for perfectionists because there isn’t the same sense of “achievement” associated with accomplishment. But by introducing flexible goals - you are practicing a highly adaptable and transferable skill - flexibility.
A flexible goal is one in with there is a range of acceptable outcomes. Sometimes the outcome is set, however the steps to get there are adaptable to different conditions and environments. This opens you up to new opportunities that might spring up along the way, as you have the flexibility to incorporate them into your goal - instead of having to follow a premeditated and ridgid path.
A great place to practice this is through an interaction with someone you know. Usually you might set up a lunch or coffee date with the goal of getting someone to agree to a favor, or to extract information (while of course still following the social norms and niceties dictated by the situation).
Instead of setting a strict outcome for your next meet up, have your goal be to have a great interaction or exchange. Listen closely to what the other person is saying and stay curious about their experiences, connections and thoughts. You might be surprised at what you come away with...and you can always follow up with an email to ask for a favor later.
Trait #3 - All or Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking is a super tricky trait - because you often have no idea you are exhibiting it. With this form of thinking, also called “black or white thinking” - you think only in extremes. Things are right or wrong, good or bad, enough or too little - there is no inbetween. If you set a goal for yourself to exercise for 30 days straight (a bit extreme in itself), exercise from days 1 - 10 but then miss day 11 - would you tend to throw in the towel all together and move onto a new goal? You might suffer from all or nothing thinking.
How to fix all or nothing thinking: Separate facts from assumptions
All or nothing thinking is just one approach to viewing the world. You can also look at things as either facts and assumptions - but often perfectionists get the two confused.
You might decide a long time acquaintance is a bad friend because she:
- Showed up late for lunch (fact)
- Didn’t really want to be there (assumption)
- Talked the whole time about herself (fact)
- Wasn’t interested in your new project at all (assumption)
When in reality, she was just laid off from a job she loved, and the exit interview went longer than she anticipated making her late. When she did arrive, she was grateful to have your input on the situation, and took the opportunity to discuss her situation at length often asking for your expertise or advice. Upon further reflection, you might realize she didn’t ask you about your project at all because you hadn’t shared it, and she wasn’t even aware it’s underway. Does this still make her a bad friend? Or was it just a trying day? Don’t we all have those? Always look for the grey area and see what you might be missing within it.
This is particularly helpful if you can see how you connect the facts of a situation to your assumptions. Do you have a pattern of seeing the worst in people or expecting to be let down? Some deep personal work might be required there to remove this block.
Another option to remove all or nothing thinking is to start thinking in degrees. Instead of saying my lunch date was completely self absorbed today - try and put them on a scale between 1 and 100. Were they 60% absorbed? If so - what might have contributed to that? How could you maximize the remaining 40% to have a meaningful and interactive conversation?
Make Your Action Plan!
There you have it - three clear perfectionist traits that lead to burnout, and a fix for each:
- Fear of Failure: Learn about other people’s failures, and experiment with being a learner
- Unrealistic Expectations:
- All or Nothing Thinking:
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 guide to Banishing Burnout by clicking on the image below and start making your action plan today:
Top 5 tips to help you tackle these burnout promoting traits:
As a reminder - here are my top five tips for getting these perfectionist tendencies under control so you can live your best life:
- Stay curious
- Become comfortable with practice
- Introduce Flexible Goals
- Practice thinking in degrees
- Ask for help
You can incorporate them into your Action Plan easily, and you will be amazed at the difference they make to your daily life!
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