How Perfectionism Is Sabotaging Your Career

How Perfectionism Is Sabotaging Your Career

Perfectionism—it can be paralyzing.

On one hand, it holds you to high standards and ensures you only create exceptional work. But on the other hand, those same standards bind you, causing you to procrastinate, avoid action, and be less effective.

Millennials struggle with perfectionism more than any other generation. Coincidentally, we also have the highest rates of depression and anxiety, which go hand-in-hand with perfectionism.

Psychologically, we chase perfection because of the safety it provides. It’s easy to hide your flaws behind the veil of perfectionism, and only reveal or act when you feel you are guaranteed success. But in doing this, you often end up limiting yourself and your career.

Take it from one former perfectionist who says overcoming the need to be perfect was the key to unlocking exponential growth in his career and scope of impact.

Meet Cam Adair, the founder of Game Quitters, the world’s largest support community for video game addiction, with members in over 70 countries worldwide. Game Quitters provides hundreds of free videos geared to help gamers ditch the screen and fall in love with life again. Adair is also an international speaker who has spoken to college audiences about overcoming adversity and has given two TEDx talks.

On the latest episode of the Unconventional Life Podcast, Adair shares practical advice to help you beat perfectionism and become more effective.

Take Action Before You Feel Ready

One of the biggest obstacles perfectionists face is impossibly high standards. Because you expect so much of yourself, you’re often unwilling to take action on anything that won’t meet those standards—which leads to procrastination and inaction.

Don’t let your high standards paralyze you. The quickest way to overcome them is to take action before you feel ready.

Adair says you can flex this muscle by launching projects in areas you have no experience. You might launch a podcast if you struggle with speaking, or a blog if writing isn’t your strong suit. Besides getting more done, you’ll develop new skills and generate value for others in the process.

Adair once raised five thousand dollars for a trip to volunteer in Tanzania with no fundraising experience. The point is, you might surprise yourself and be successful in ventures you’d never imagined. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself for the best results.

Be Vulnerable

Getting everything right all the time is just plain unrelatable. As humans, we make mistakes and we fail sometimes. When you let go of trying to appear perfect, you allow other people to see themselves in you and connect to you.

“The more we embrace the imperfections in our own life, the more we’re actually able to connect with other people and it’s through that connection that we can have transformation because we have rapport. But when we try to be perfect, we create a disconnect between us and our audience,” Adair says.

When giving a TED talk in front of thousands, Adair forgot his lines twice but instead of trying to cover it up, he said, “I forgot my lines. That’s embarrassing,” and the audience laughed. Afterwards, several people came up to him and thanked him for being so relatable.

Be transparent about your flaws and don’t try to hide anything about yourself. When you’re raw and you own the human part of you, you open yourself up for genuine, meaningful connection and impact.

Share Your Story

The stories most of us are comfortable sharing about ourselves tend to be polished and construed to paint us in a positive light. We omit the moments where we struggled, felt defeated, and couldn’t see hope.

Adair says it’s these moments of adversity that are actually the most important to share of all. “We have all gone through an experience in our life that has the ability to impact millions of people. But for us the experience feels very isolating, whether it’s depression, or anxiety, or addiction. In stepping up to share that we can impact the world,” Adair says.

Your greatest struggle is actually your greatest asset. Because suffering is universal, we can all relate to it—yet it occurs behind closed doors. If you can be brave, honest, and openly share about what you struggled with, you can leverage your story to impact millions.

Adair recommends using Facebook Live, YouTube, or online support communities as platforms to share your story and get the conversation started. Pay attention to feedback to discover where people relate and how you can serve them by creating content to support them.

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