The Perfectionist's Handbook: Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes
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5 Reasons Why Perfectionism Might Get in Your Way
Trying to “go it alone”: Sometimes perfectionists get caught up in not asking for help or not showing rough drafts. Unfortunately this increases stress and leads to procrastination. Get someone to weigh in on drafts of papers you are working on. Use study groups to break up the isolation of studying.
Comparing and Competing with Others: Everyone gets to do some things well. Don’t compete with others’ strengths. Instead try to learn from them and incorporate some of their strategies and ideas into your own.
Missing Deadlines to Hand in a Better Paper: Teachers and professors hate missed deadlines. Even if they comment that the quality of your late paper is excellent they will typically mark you down for this. Also, this is not good practice for the real world. Instead, consider getting a rough draft sent in a week before the deadline to see if you can get some comments before hand.
“Being Hard on Myself for Making Mistakes Motivates Me to Try Harder Next Time”: Criticizing yourself not only doesn’t improve your performance it decreases your motivation. Be careful about getting caught up in being angry with yourself for perceived or actual mistakes. In order to succeed in school and life you need feedback in order to succeed. Research on becoming an expert at a skill tells us that you need to actively seek out constructive criticism and focus on your mistakes as a way of improving performance in the long run.
Working for Others Approval Rather than Your Own: Setting and achieving personally set goals is the hallmark of a healthy perfectionist. Trying to please others and live up to their expectations is a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness. Be clear with yourself about what is important to you and let that be your primary motivator.
5 Ways to Get Perfectionism to Work for You
Prioritize: Think about the classes you are taking, and what is most important to you. Don’t get caught up in spending time on less important subjects.
Get Organized: How do you track assignments, due dates, and tests? Do you have study blocks set up?
Use the 80-20 rule: Make sure to interact with teachers and professors so that you have a sense of what their expectations are. Some are sticklers for details while others are more interested in good ideas. Do they focus more on what you’ve learned from the reading or from the lectures? Match your time and energy to what they are paying most of their attention to (80%).
Make Sure You Let Everything Count: Perfectionists can be over focused on what didn’t go well. Make sure that you allow the positives and achievements to count as well. Not only is this more accurate (why wouldn’t you let the positives count?), it is better for keeping your motivation up throughout the semester.
Work Hard, Play Hard: Are you one of those students who gets sick during finals week? If so, it sounds like you need to take a second look at your schedule. Make sure to schedule in breaks as well as study time. Keeping a varied weekly schedule keeps you healthy and in a positive frame of mind. All work and no play results in burnout, procrastination and a reduction in creativity.