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How Perfectionists Can Learn to Delegate

Perfectionism can sound like a good thing. After all, what’s wrong with wanting to do your best and having high expectations? Except, that’s not really perfectionism. There’s a difference between having high expectations and unrealistic ones. No one is perfect, and perfectionists can struggle with that. 

Unfortunately, perfectionists also put a lot of pressure on themselves. They think they need to take charge of everything in order for it to be done correctly, which can lead to burnout, stress, and anxiety. 

One of the best ways to combat that is by delegating tasks to other people, especially in the workplace. But that’s often easier said than done for a perfectionist. 

Sound familiar? If so, how can you learn to delegate so you don’t have so much weight on your shoulders?

Take Baby Steps

Delegating tasks doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing event. That can be overwhelming for a perfectionist and make you less likely to keep doing it. Instead, start by assigning small tasks and jobs to others, and work in stages.

If you’re not sure which tasks to delegate, consider ones that take up a lot of your time or might seem tedious. You should also consider tasks that can be easily taught. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to pawn off tasks to others but to “upskill” employees and co-workers, so they can master certain skills that you wouldn’t be able to give your full attention to.

Discuss the Final Outcomes

When you’re a perfectionist, it’s common to deal with unrealistic expectations and outcomes. If you’re going to delegate tasks to others, you need to drop those expectations because they’ll never be met, and you’ll end up feeling disappointed and anxious.

photo of a person writing in a journal with a cup of coffee next to them on a tableInstead of outlining every detail of a task before delegating it, talk about what the final outcome should be. Be clear about what “success” looks like, and let your team work toward it in ways they see fit. When you open up this kind of discussion, you might be surprised by the different opinions and suggestions others have. It can open you up to seeing things from a different perspective, which can make you feel more comfortable and confident handing out roles. 

Look at Delegation as a Partnership

Consider inviting your co-workers, teammates, or employees into the thought process of delegation. You might find that certain people want to try their hand at different tasks. Maybe they already have skills that are appropriate for specific jobs. Maybe they want to master a different skill. 

By bringing them into the delegation discussion, it becomes a partnership that’s more suited for success. You’ll feel more comfortable and confident about handing out different tasks, and when the people you’re delegating to are excited about those tasks, they’re more likely to be done at a higher level. 

Fight Back Against Perfectionism

At the end of the day, learning how to delegate is only one step in dealing with perfectionism. You’ll have to learn how to take a step back and let go of unrealistic expectations. While starting small with baby steps can help, understand that you don’t have to let go of this way of thinking on your own. 

Some aspects of perfectionism can be good. It can motivate you and boost productivity. But, if your perfectionism has caused you to feel bogged down and burnt out, consider seeking out professional help as a complementary way to handle delegation. 

Therapy can help you get to the root cause of your perfectionism. When you understand where it stems from, you can start to work on the skills necessary to overcome it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your own expectations, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up an appointment for anxiety therapy.