Why Perfectionism Hinders Your Capability as a Fashion Professional

career performance Aug 30, 2018

I was once a perfectionist! There you go. My full confession.

I've learned enough to justify sharing my experience and advice with other fashion professionals that suffer from the same affliction.

Perfectionism is not a healthy condition to live with.

As I've grown older my need to drive myself to be perfect in all areas of my life has significantly mellowed. I'm now far less driven to push myself. A combination of hard knocks, setbacks and a developed attitude of "life's too short" has meant that I'm far more considered about the need to get it all "just right".

My family still laughs now at how I used to brush the fringed edges of a Persian rug so that all the tassles were aligned! The room didn't look perfect unless the 2 metres of fringe was perfectly presented.

And my husband still can not understand why I would put mats over the top of mats in my car so that the original mats would stay protected! Only the next owner benefited from this step toward having a perfectly presented car.

Being so driven had its benefits.

I got things done.

I outperformed my peers and I created amazing output for many years.

There was no area of my life that perfectionism didn't affect.

But each stretched goal only led me to a short-term fix and a sense of achievement before I had to reach for the next bar. I knew my goals were unrealistic but it was almost like a drug. I was hooked on the demands perfectionism placed on me.

Secretly people like this are seeking out validation of their self-worth. We're guilty of trying to fulfill a need for being valued. Unfortunately, it can wreak havoc in your personal and professional lives. 

Perfect is the enemy of "done" as well as the enemy of "good."

You see perfectionism affects how one thinks, behaves, and feels.

Why Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Fashion Career

  1. Makes you more difficult to be with. That's right. You're seen as a pain in the neck and hard work to be around. Collaboration becomes a real effort and managing you can be enormously tiresome too. And your insatiable need to “win” or be the best in whatever it is you're doing ends up alienating your colleagues.
  2. Perfectionism hurts others. Because of your critical eye and judgmental thinking and behavior you run a real risk of negatively impacting others.
  3. It hinders your creativity. You find the creative process uncomfortable because it's not a clean, perfect, controllable and predictive process so you end up minimising your ability to be truly creative and inspirational.
  4. Your judgment can be blurred. Because you see perfection as the only standard to strive for you limit your ability to proactively lead and manage other people effectively. They just won't have the same level of motivation to get the project or output beyond 100%.
  5. You push people away inadvertently. It's scary sometimes having to work with perfectionists because they can be so damn hard to please. Attracting people onto your team, therefore, gets difficult at times, especially when you have a reputation of being over demanding because of your standards. Ultimately your perfectionism drives others away, scaring them off.

Given these negative characteristics that a perfectionist carries it's not surprising your ability to inspire and lead others in your projects is going to take a hit.

Tips for Reducing the Negative Impact of Perfectionism

1. Let Yourself Say "No" to Requests

Begin by telling yourself it's OK to say No to requests for help and support. Learn that constantly giving in an effort to be seen as the perfect person isn't actually doing good. In the longer run, it's causing you issues. Saying No is acceptable. Be assertive and turn down more requests and opportunities and give yourself more time and flexibility for you.

2. Accept Lower Standards

The world won't cave in if you accept a lesser standard. When perfectionists accept a lower level of achievement it's generally higher than most people's best endeavours. Give yourself a break and praise yourself when you are happy with less.

Let Go of the Need to Get It Perfect.

3. Set Realistic Goals For Yourself

Replace perfectionistic expectations with healthy and realistic goals. Setting goals that always stretch you are fine if you want to develop yourself and grow as an individual. But setting unrealistic goals leads to frustration, shortfalls in your perception of yourself, personal berating and a feeling of failure when goals aren't met. Phew!

Give yourself a break. Set goals that are realistic and achievable. By setting more realistic goals, you'll eliminate excess energy that would go towards attempting the impossible, and have a more balanced lifestyle.

4. Remove “Should” From Your Vocabulary. 

Setting yourself up for failure isn't something you aim to do BUT that's what happens when perfectionists think and talk about what they “should or shouldn't” be doing. When you live in the realms of life where everything needs to be black and white (a perfectionistic trait) this is setting you up for inevitable failure.

  • Instead of saying “I should be working on developing that mood board instead of sitting out here in the garden,” allow yourself some time to relax and schedule in some work time for later. The world won't collapse, your business or career will not fail.
  • Rather than telling yourself “I should get this done this morning,” try “I’ll do this tomorrow because it's not urgent or important.”

5. Turn Down Your Negative Self-talk and Inner Critic.

The next time you berate yourself, switch to positive self-talk. Use healthy rewards and positive feedback to achieve your goals instead of allowing your inner voice and negative self-talk to drive you. The later only causes emotional upsets and stress.

Instead turn up the volume on your intuition, and allow positivity and self-love to propel you to success.

6. Don't Hold Others to Your Same Standard.

You already know by now that your standards are higher than most other's. So holding other people to reach and match your high standards is a daunting task for them. You'll be disappointed time and time again. It's not that what they do is of lesser value, it's that you are asking them to be motivated to achieve what you want, which is already unrealistic. 

Set standards that are achievable and realistic.

7. Trust That It Will All Be OK.

As a perfectionist, I would panic and get overwhelmed when I saw a mountain of work ahead of me. Whether it was domestic chores or professional tasks, I would get drowned by my own thoughts of "How am I going to get this done?"
And yet, it always does get finished. The overwhelm never gets the better of the task. So over the years, I have learned to trust that it will get done, despite fears that it will not. So trust the process and trust the inevitable progress that will get things done.

8. Stop Procrastinating. Just Go Ahead and Begin.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment, or for something to be perfect to take action. The perfect time only arises with hindsight. Waiting is pointless because the perfect time will never happen.

Instead take action now. Go ahead keep making progress even when something is not as good as you'd wish for. Taking action leaves you feeling empowered resulting in you feeling better about yourself, getting more done and participating in more of life's opportunities.

9. Tell Yourself Mistakes are Simply Lessons.

Perfectionists generally have a fear of failure, which gets in the way of moving forward. Try telling yourself that failure, mistakes, and shortfalls in achievement are the opportunities you need to learn and grow. These are simply lessons that you can benefit from.

10. Recognise Perfectionism as a Problem.

Tell yourself that while having healthy high standards and setting realistic goals are good for you, being a perfectionist is not. There's a big difference between perfectionism and high standards and it's important to recognise the difference and where you lie on the spectrum between the two.

Getting Support and Help

The key to tackling your perfectionism is to recognise you have it and to decide that you want and need to do something about it.

Like so many areas of our lives which become unbalanced, it's easy to ignore what needs to be done, for the inner work to be made a priority. All parts of our lives can become unbalanced and unproductive.

To help you redesign areas of your life that need some TLC, I've created four free training videos that I hope you will sign up to.

Take them in your own time. Simply sign up above and receive the first one today.

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