Let's define perfectionism first. It could save some terse emails.

Can we agree that perfectionism refers to needing to have everything perfect, not just high standards?

Perfect is an imperfect strategy, driven by fear of failure

Perfectionism will do you harm. It will make you unhappy, anxious, possibly depressed and certainly far less productive than you could be.

If you are leading others, perfectionism is likely to drive you to micromanage your team and there are few faster ways to ensure they are disengaged at work.

If you've been thinking that anything less than perfect is slap-dash, you are thinking in 'all or none' terms. The start of your cure is to stop thinking that way.

The benefits of freeing yourself from perfectionism

Aim for 95 per cent, not 100 per cent and consider the advantages of being liberated from perfectionism.

  • More time for other tasks, just getting more done in a day
  • A more relaxed life with better health
  • A more rewarding and effective leadership role

Abandon the perfectionism strategy and you'll break the cycle that most perfectionists set up for themselves. They aim for perfection, fail to achieve it (by their standards at least) so they strive to make up for it next time.

Many perfectionists decide that, not only is the task a failure, but they must be a failure too. Next time they'll need even higher standards to restore their confidence.

Never tie your sense of self-worth to your achievements. Aim high, strive to exceed your previous personal best and celebrate when you do well, but base your self-worth on living by your values. It's what successful people really do.