Perfection Paralysis: How To Step Back And Stop Overanalyzing Your Work

Linda ReyesBlogging, Forbes Coaches Counsel


Forbes Coaches Council


Top coaches offer insights on leadership development & careers. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Ambitious professionals who always strive to improve are often the most successful. These individuals are also typically perfectionists – which isn’t necessarily a good thing. When you overanalyze your projects and keep finding flaws, it creates a bottleneck in your workflow and ultimately hurts your productivity.

In these situations, it’s wise to take a step back and look at it more objectively, even if that means asking others for their feedback. You are often your own worst critic, and a broader perspective might help you become more confident in your work. Here are 12 ways to fight your perfectionist instincts, recommended by Forbes Coaches Council members.

All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

1. Consider Your Constraints

If you’re overanalyzing, you’re probably looking for the best or perfect answer. We were all trained this way in school. In the business world, decisions need to be made in a certain time with a certain budget. Remember your work is not about being perfect, but providing the best insight you can within the constraints you have. That gives you a lot of room to work and permission to not be perfect. – Larry BoyerSuccess Rockets LLC

2. Take Small Steps

Start with the smallest step you can take that has the greatest impact. You might be overthinking what actually needs to happen. Taking smaller steps will help you improve what you are trying to do over time. Find what is the smallest and most important thing to work on, get feedback, and keep iterating. Focus on who is impacted by your work and engaged them often. It’s a journey. – Alan TrivediTrivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

3. Define And Visualize Success

Separate fact from fiction. Is not being confident stemming from knowing deep down you didn’t put in your best effort? Or is it feeling like your best is still not good enough? Reflect and visualize what success looks like. What are you trying to solve for? Jot it down on paper and compare your work objectively to this success criteria. Work with a trusted colleague if it helps bring clarity. – Christie LindorThe MECE Muse

4. Strive Toward ‘Best For Now’ Instead Of Perfection

It’s easy to get bogged down with a strive for perfection in one’s work. One solution I have is to accept a “best for now” version. Given time constraints for many projects, it allows me to step back from a project, and know that it is at its best for the time being. If I look at it later and see room for improvement, I can create an updated version. – Billy WilliamsArchegos

5. Determine The Importance And Measure Of Success For Each Task You Have

I’m a recovering perfectionist, so I ask what is the goal and what does “good enough” look like for each task on my list. Then, I rate the importance of the task on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Now, you have a measure of success and an idea of how to achieve it. I went from typing up every meeting agenda to handwriting internal ones and making quick copies. – Rosie GuagliardoInnerBrilliance Coaching

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

6. Celebrate Small And Large Wins Every Step Of The Way

When you are clear about your desired outcome, you then get to choose to enjoy the journey to your success destination. The best way to do this is to celebrate the small and large wins along the way. It’s a gift I’ve passed on to clients, and it’s made a world of difference in their personal and professional lives. – Lisa Marie PlatskeUpside Thinking, Inc.

Continue Reading on