Sunday, July 3, 2022

Perfectionism Sabotages Success And Leads to Burnout

A new study, which was published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, has found that trying to be a perfectionist leads to self-sabotage at work, school, and even on the sports field. This sabotage that is self inflicted then leads to potential health problems, stress, and even a feeling of being burnt out.


This study is the first study to look at the relationship between perfectionism and feelings of burnout, and researchers analyzed findings from 43 previous studies that have been performed over the past 20 years. While this study might make it seem like perfectionism is bad, it is really not, and there are different types of perfectionism. One part of perfectionism is called perfectionistic strivings, and this involves setting high personal standards, as well as working towards a goal in a pro-active manner. In this situation, moving forward towards a goal can help someone have a feeling of accomplishment, and this leads to the feelings of burnout being delayed, at least according to the study results. There is however a more sinister side to perfectionism, which is called perfectionistic concerns, and this is detrimental to people when they worry constantly about making mistakes, letting other people down, or not measuring up to their own standards, which often times are too high to be realistic. The lead researcher of the study was Andrew Hill, who is an associate professor of sports psychology at York St. John University in England. There have been studies in the past that have shown how concerns about being perfect lead to stress, and this contributes to serious health problems such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, fatigue, and in some cases leads to an early death. The study can be found online in the Personality and Social Psychology Review journal, and it goes into depth about how perfectionism can be both good and bad depending on essentially the type of perfectionism someone has. The biggest issue is that when people become cynical and stop caring, this leads to the feelings of burnout, and that compounds the feelings of stress that someone already feels about trying to maintain that perfection in whatever aspect of their lives they strive to succeed in.

An interesting part of the study was that the researchers found that the feelings of burnout occur the most in the workplace, and this has the most negative effects on a person. This is because the workplace often times becomes the biggest area where perfectionistic concerns are based. Most people have sports and education objectives that are clearly defined, and also people tend to have more social support in both of these areas than they do when it comes to their job or workplace. In school, a person is often rewarded for perfection or doing very well, such as buy getting higher grades or certain awards that recognizes them for their hard work and dedication. In sports, there is also a reward system set up for the hardwork and perfection, such as winning the game or match or getting an award for coming in first at a championship. As far as work is concerned, a lot of people strive to be successful and want to be a perfectionist, but their hard work might not be recognized or they may not be rewarded, such as not getting a raise or an employee of the month recognition. This lack of reward or feeling of not being appreciated often leads to cynicism and burnout.

People need to accept failure as an opportunity to learn, forgive themselves when they fail, and most importantly, set realistic goals, and this will help people overcome the irrational beliefs that come with being a perfectionist. To simply put it, you need to deal with reality in reality’s terms in order to avoid these feelings of anxiety or feelings of being burnt out, especially in situations where hard work is not often recognized. It also helps when there is an environment of creativity, effort, and perseverance, which can offset the feelings of not being rewarded for perfectionism or success.

The researchers of the study say that a personality profile would benefit people because it could help identify the perfectionistic strivings or concerns. If we had a personality profile for everyone, then we would be able to help people who could be more prone to the burnout feelings before they happen, and also it could help people learn coping mechanisms they could use in their daily lives. A lot of people do have some characteristics of perfectionism, but the perfectionistic strivings could end up being more dominant. The biggest takeaway from this study is that people need to learn how to manage their expectations and learn how to make realistic goals without going overboard, which can lessen the feelings of being burned out, whether it is a job related goal or project or something related to relationships or school. Learning how to effectively manage stress and anxiety can also help decrease the chances of feeling burned out.

Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.


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