Changing My Ways

….or trying to anyways.

I’m starting my new position at the end of next week so I’m trying to write all the reports I’ve already been assigned so I don’t have to pass off my work to anyone else.  I’m very eager to start this new job.  I love the job I’m doing now, love the people I’m working with, and I haven’t really been in the position long enough to feel bored but this change is exciting.

Starting a new job gives you an opportunity to evaluate yourself.

New challenges are refreshing and invigorating. Working with new people in a new environment doing a job that’s so vastly different from what you’ve done all your life makes you recognize both your strengths and weaknesses.  I realize one of my struggles is a fear of failure and fear of making mistakes.  The perfectionist in me is terrified of saying the wrong thing, writing the wrong thing in an email or report, missing a deadline, missing a step in some process, asking a silly question, etc…

Recognizing this in myself reminds me why being a perfectionist is both a strength and a weakness.  It sometimes causes me to hesitate, to question myself, to dwell and to worry.  I try to plan for everything in a job where the next step often depends on the behavior of other people, which is not always predictable.  I often talk about my rational and irrational mind. Rationally, I know mistakes happen, everyone makes mistakes sometimes but in my irrational mind mistakes are unacceptable.  I used to think it was just a fear of getting in trouble but I realize it’s much deeper than that, it’s a fear of disappointing other people, fear of disappointing myself.

On performance reviews at my previous jobs the areas I always needed to work on were delegation (How can a perfectionist trust someone else to do something?) and decision-making (I was told to trust myself and my decision making process).  Sadly these things are still an issue for me but I feel like I’m finally at the place in my life where I can make progress on changing these things about myself.

Will I ever completely give up my perfectionist, control freak ways?  No, but I can allow myself to make mistakes sometimes just to show myself that I will survive.  I can try to worry less about making the wrong decision and learn to trust my instincts.  People put me in the job I’m in right now because they trust my abilities so I need to have faith in my own ability and be confident.

Feel free to share your thoughts.  Any fellow perfectionists out there who face the same struggles?  Or maybe some who have found a way to let go of some of the need for perfection?

The Workaholic Overachieving Perfectionist

We all have different traits that make up our personality.  Some are negative.  Some are positive. Many linger in a gray zone in-between where too much of it turns it from a positive to a negative. The ones listed below are some that I struggle to keep in the positive zone.

Attention to detail=Perfectionist

Competitive=Over-Achiever

Hard worker=Workaholic

Both of these can mean the same thing but the ones on the right tend to have negative connotations,for example, when I apply for a job I don’t say I’m a perfectionist I say I have an attention to detail.  It sounds nicer.  Perfectionist brings to mind someone obsessively trying to make everything exactly as it should be with little to no room for error…..that’s me.

I have relaxed some, learning to pick and choose my moments when my “attention to detail” is needed and when I can say, “It’s not perfect and that’s okay”  I realize sometimes I expend too much energy into creating the vision in my head instead of accepting what’s in front of me and recognizing everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.

I’m competitive.  I realized I might be overly competitive, perhaps going into that over-achiever side, when I was talking to my boss this week.  I volunteered to put together a bulletin board for the monthly topic.  Everyone grumbles about it but I love the creative aspect of the project and I expressed this to my boss.  She described a past employee who also enjoyed creating the boards, pointing out some of this employee’s boards that are still up in the building.  I said “I’ll have to check them out so I know what I need to beat”  She said “You don’t need to beat anything”  I said, “Of course not, ha ha ha” but in my mind I was thinking “My bulletin board will be the greatest decorated bulletin board this office has ever seen” *Insert maniacal laugh here*

I know some part of it is because I’m a new employee and feel like I have something to prove but it’s also just kind of how I’ve always been, wanting to be the best.  I also want to do everything I can to be part of the team.

I feel guilty working only 40 hours.  I feel guilty taking an hour lunch.  I feel guilty being the person leaving on time every night.  I feel guilty because I’m still learning at my job so I sometimes feel like I’m not pulling my weight.  I am a workaholic.

When I walk out the door at 5:00 and see people still at their desks I get a sinking feeling in my stomach like maybe I should still be at my desk but I’m learning to accept my workday ends at 5:00.  If I need to stay late, I will but if I don’t I go home and that’s okay.  I’m still learning my job.  Everything I do is a learning experience.  I’m working hard to learn everything I can but it takes time.  I’ve been there for a little over one month so the fact that I don’t know everything is OKAY (I put that in capital letters so it will hopefully sink in) and is expected.

It all ties together for me.  I get frustrated because I don’t know everything, so I mess up which drives the perfectionist in me crazy, and makes me realize I’m not the best at my job right now.  I keep reminding myself I’m new to this career and it will take time to learn so I’m trying to be patient (add impatient to my list of negative personality traits) but it’s not always easy.

I’m sure I will continue to struggle with these traits but I feel like recognizing them is a component to keeping them on the positive side of the spectrum, although I’m stick working on creating the best bulletin board ever 😉

Overthinking

I am a detail oriented perfectionist with a constant fear of being judged negatively.  When I started my blog I figured it would be a cathartic release, allowing me to express myself by turning some of my inner monologue into written words.  My first couple of posts were written in less than an hour as I simply allowed my thoughts to flow but as people began to read I began to over-think everything I wrote.  I was worrying that I was off topic or that I might offend someone or that it simply wasn’t interesting.  Taking 2 hours to write a 500 word post is a bit excessive and after only 9 posts it’s starting to feel like work.

I appreciate the followers I have (Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings and follow my blog) and my competitive nature wants me to the best at everything but at this moment in my life the blog is not to promote or advertise.  This is simply telling my story while finding support from people who can relate to my stories and also connecting with others in the blogging community.  I’m loving reading all the various blogs and am learning about interesting new topics.

When I told a friend I started a blog she asked me why and my simple reply was that I enjoy writing.  I started the blog to gain personal clarity and keep active during this transitional period in my life but I rapidly forgot that this is meant to be fun.

Part of my inspiration for today’s  post was finding some of my writing from high school and early college when I wasn’t constantly thinking about what people were thinking of me but simply allowing my thoughts to flow onto paper without hesitation.  This week I’m going to attempt to free myself from over-thinking my posts and allow myself to write freely.  I don’t know if I will ever focus on one only topic and right now my blog is like me, a bit all over the place but I’m learning to accept that and keep working and writing.