Useful Tip For Managing Perfectionism for People Who Have Excessively High Standards for Themselves (Lots of my psychotherapy clients fall into this category!)

By Alice Boyes, PhD. | Uncategorized

This tip is from a surprising/unlikely source: international , New Zealand but I use it alot and lots of clients have really liked it.

The tip is called the 80/20 principle.

The idea (as it applies here) is for any task you can achieve 80% of the results you hope to accomplish with 20% of the effort that it would take to achieve the full 100% of what you’re capable of.

For example
You have to write an essay.
If you read 5 key books/articles to research your essay you’re likely to get a B+.
However to get an A+ you might need to read 25 books/articles.

Sometimes achieving 100% of your desired results is important. BUT there are lots of instances when achieving 80% and moving on to your next important task is preferable.

The specific 80/20 ratio itself is unlikely to be true but in my experience the principle is very true for many (but obviously not all) tasks.

Another example,

Lets say that if write a blog post and include one example to illustrate the skills I’m trying to teach 80% of readers will understand the concept well enough to apply the info in their life.

To get 100% of readers to understand the concept I might need to include 10 examples, which would be A LOT more work and reduce the time I have available to work on other important tasks.

By using the 80/20 principle you might not do each task as “perfectly” as you could but you’re likely to achieve a lot more overall and feel a lot less stressed out.

When you practice “not doing things perfectly” on a regular basis you’re also likely to feel less worried/anxious about failure.

The irony is…

I find that when I use the 80/20 principle I often get better results than if I had tried to do something 100%. I suspect this is because I’m keeping it simple and focusing on the most important aspects of the task. Using the 80/20 principle can help with being able to “see the wood for the trees” which is something that people who have very high standards for themselves often struggle with.

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