There’s a growing majority of workers entering the workforce accepting nothing less than perfection. According to a new American Psychological Association study of 41,641 American, Canadian, and British college millennials, the number of young people who are identifying as perfectionists has increased substantially over the last 27 years.
The researchers found that college millennials who were surveyed between 1989 and 2016 tested higher in self-oriented perfectionism (where you tie your self-worth to your achievements), socially prescribed perfectionism (where you allow others’ expectations to dictate your own), and other-oriented perfectionism (where you demand people to rise up to meet your high standards).
“More recent generations of college students appear to be imposing more demanding and unrealistic standards on those around them than generations previous,” the study states. “We speculate that this may be because, generally, American, Canadian, and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic, and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”
While holding to yourself to a high standard can help you strive for success, perfectionism can also hold your career back when it becomes your only metric for success and satisfaction. Then perfectionism becomes an anxious fear or rejection and failure that prevents you from enjoying your career.
How to stop being an unhealthy perfectionist
To stop your unhealthy perfectionist impulses, you need to identify your self-defeating beliefs.
Perfectionists are often motivated by the limiting belief: “If I cannot do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing.” You believe that you won’t be respected at work if people find out that you’re a flawed human being. Your entire identity is tied to whether or not a project or meeting goes well.