First, it’s important to notice your perfectionist thoughts and feelings as they go through your head. If you do not notice them, you will automatically initiate perfectionistic behaviour which is what you want to get rid of.
Secondly, we must learn to see these perfectionist thoughts and feelings as thoughts and feelings and not as facts (truth).
Example: to read e-mails three times is not necessary, the colleagues don’t do it neither and that turns out okay.
Thirdley, we must be willing to endure these perfectionist thoughts and feelings until they automatically extinguish. We should not try to get rid of the perfectionistic thoughts and feelings by reassuring behavior (e.g. e-mail reading 3x). After all, reassuring behavior does not make you lose these troublesome thoughts and feelings forever.
Fourth, we need to know what our goal is and link it to our (target) behaviour. For example, my goal is to exhaust myself less, my target behavior is: e.g. not to read my e-mails unnecessarely. Please note, you will have to repeat this behavior frequently (read our e-mails only once) while you “hear” perfectionist thoughts and feelings in your mind. However if you continue to do so, you will find that your inhibiting perfectionist thoughts and feelings decrease.
Step 1: Which perfectionist thoughts and feelings do you notice?
Step 2: Check whether these are fact-based. An example of a fact is: the colleagues don’t read their e-mails three times and the customers don’t complain.
Step 3: What reassuring behaviour are you at risk to pose from your perfectionist thoughts and feelings? An example of reassuring behaviour is to read the e-mails three times before you send them.
Step 4: What is your target behaviour and the justification for this? An example of target behaviour is: re-reading e-mails once.
An example of justification is: because I want to get rid of the exhaustion and the threat of a burnout.
Note: It’s important in this step-by-step plan that you are prepared to endure your emerging perfectionist thoughts and feelings while you set the target behaviour. As mentioned earlier, you have to do this frequently before these perfectionistic thoughts and feelings decrease. After all, you also learn how to drive a car properly, after doing this often.
The speed with which your perfectionistic thoughts and feelings diminish depends on how often (frequency) you repeat your new behavior (e.g. to read e-mails only once).
For example, setting new target behaviours every day will bring about a significant improvement in three weeks, on the other hand you will notice a much slower improvement if you only set your target behaviour once a week. Mind you, it’s important to keep this behaviour consistent.
For example, if you alternate your target behaviour with your old behaviour (e.g. reading messages three times motivated by your insecurity) there will be no or limited improvement.