Being a perfectionist can present many personal challenges in the workplace. Always striving to be something that is impossible to be is not only exhausting, but often leaves one with feelings of dissatisfaction, shame, and fear of failure. 

While working with or for someone who is a perfectionist undoubtedly has its frustrations and obstacles, being a perfectionist yourself is a whole other beast. You may be thinking, “What’s so wrong with being a perfectionist? At least you know everything you do will be great, and you’ll always succeed.” Even perfectionists themselves often secretly take pride in their perfectionism, without realizing how the quality can actually hinder them.

Inc. expresses a similar thought with an article entitled, “Perfectionism Won’t Just Make You Unhappy–It Can Literally Kill You. And Make You Bad at Your Job.” The title itself sums up the message. Backed by credible research, the article states how perfectionism has been proven to cause various mental illnesses, shorten your lifespan, and, surprisingly, inhibit your ability to perform tasks, since perfectionists lack the quality of perseverance in challenging situations. 

Being a perfectionist at work is something you can work to overcome everyday by practicing basic tips. Follow along below for some ways to kickstart the process. 

Practice Self-Awareness

The fact that you’re reading this article and looking for ways to conquer your perfectionism shows that you already have some level of self-awareness. Without recognizing your perfectionist quality, you wouldn’t be able to take steps to move past it. As you continue to go about your work day, try to really tune in to your behaviors. What expectations do you set for yourself, and for others? How do you respond to assignments and tasks? The more you’re able to understand when your perfectionist qualities are showing up, the better chance you have at working to make positive changes. 

Don’t Make Comparisons

Comparing yourself to others is a toxic practice. Most of the time, people compare themselves to others who they think are better than they are. You set yourself up for disappointment when you engage in making comparisons. While some people may seem perfect or ideal, even the people you compare yourself to have plenty of their own faults and quirks. Quit the comparisons. Focus on being a better version of who you are. 

Set Reachable Goals

Perfectionists are known to set the bar too high, impossibly high, and then get frustrated when their work doesn’t live up to the expectation they set. Cue another toxic cycle. When setting goals for yourself, make sure they’re realistic, specific, and short-term. When you complete each item on your goals list, check it off and celebrate your achievement. By doing so, you will feel accomplished and motivated to continue on with a positive attitude. 

Start Delegating

Another common tendency of perfectionists is biting off more than they can chew, especially in leadership positions. After all, the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself! Well…not quite. Taking on too many projects and setting unrealistic standards will only send you down a spiral in which you’re doomed to fail. To fight this, start getting to know your team better. Build trust in the people around you so that you can begin to delegate some of the lower priority responsibilities you have put upon yourself. That way, everything will still get accomplished, but you’ve learned to let go of some of your unreasonable standards and need to be in control.


Being a perfectionist isn’t easy, and neither is learning not to be one. Just like anything else, the process doesn’t happen overnight, so you’d be wise to practice patience while taking this journey. Begin with self-awareness, and then work your way from there. Don’t be afraid to talk with other people and ask for their input as you attempt to make this transition for the betterment of your work and your self. 

For specialized personal development training, reach out to Knowted and see how you can advance your professional skills.

Re-Humanizing The Workplace

Professional development engagements designed to provide practical skills that enhance personal and work performance.

Schedule a Consultation