Various studies point in the same direction: the young people of today are much more perfectionist than the previous generations. How can you, as a starter, prevent yourself from imposing unreasonably high pressure? And how do you, as an employer, deal with this, realizing that an excessive urge to perform can cause many problems?
In this sensitive matter, the problem is of all ages and affects more and more young people. At the same time, according to the World Health Organization, there have never been so many young people with depression or anxiety disorder. Moreover, people often do not even know that they suffer from unhealthy perfectionism. They do it on autopilot. Compare it to sleeping: you only realize that you are dozing when you are awake again.
That many young people are struggling is closely related to two contemporary phenomena: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and YOLO (You Only Live Once). The permanent connection with social media makes them, in the long run, terrified that they will miss something important or fun. Partly as a result, the conviction grows that they have to get everything out of life and that they have to be the best possible version of themselves. So they impose excessively high standards and irrational ideals on themselves. On a professional level, they believe they cannot afford any mistakes. In itself, there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to show what he can or knows. But it becomes a completely different story if he falls victim to an endless worry with the smallest setback.
Perfectionism is also a double-edged. On the one hand, the will to get the best out of it is something positive. But you can drive it to the point that you ultimately seriously sabotage yourself. You postpone decisions because you absolutely want the very best and you are not sure yet what that is exactly. You blindly stare at details and you miss the total picture. You avoid challenges because you don’t feel ready. And you can be so demanding for yourself and your colleagues that in relationships at work will suffer.
It is indeed not the case that those who strive for perfection automatically achieve better results. People who suffer from perfectionism think that they have failed if they do not perform flawlessly. And so they just don’t start it. But fear of failure can also ensure that you are so fixated on the ultimate result that you never finish anything.
A failure is definitely an option
Fortunately, a methodology developed by Marcel Hendrickx can help you to break the negative spiral. The problem is that in this performance-oriented society we are being trained unilaterally to think. Our feeling, however, does not get the chance to fully develop. Self-knowledge starts with the insight that your self-image has become too dependent on your achievements and successes. Because of that identification you soon start to think that you are not okay. While it’s really okay not to be the best in everything.
Researchers Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill formulate it in the Harvard Business Review as follows: do not focus on what can go wrong, but on what you can learn from it. The employer can, of course, play a positive role in this. He must show open understanding if things are going a bit less well. And he must state clearly that a job is always a growth process and that mistakes are simply part of it. That requires managers who recognize the patterns of unhealthy or negative perfectionism, first with themselves but equally with others.
As there are: taking an unreasonable amount of hay on your fork, saying yes to everything, constantly applying to-do rice lists but never finishing them… Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance that you regularly reduce your stress level. To ensure sufficient relaxation, movement, and social contacts. And occasionally don’t do anything at all. That is just a matter of self-care. Whoever leaves the necessary room for that as an employer, will book pure profit in the long term. Because if people fall out for a long time as a result of their unhealthy perfectionism, there will inevitably be a high cost.