“I find my job as a lawyer stressful. Perfection is expected at all times and I find this pressure difficult to manage.”
In June last year I wrote a blog titled, ‘What impact does perfectionism have on a lawyer’s career?’. Interestingly, this has been one of the most popular blogs I have published. It is even more popular than topics such as Are you a lawyer considering a career change? or How transferrable skills help lawyers change career.
In my experience of coaching lawyers, the demand for perfectionism is becoming a big issue for many people and a significant contributor to workplace stress. In the world of law, every detail has to be accurate and each action taken has to be precise. I am sure many of you are even finding yourself reading this with a critical eye. Are there any spelling mistakes? Are there any grammatical errors?
According to the 2011 CIPD/Simplyhealth absence report, stress is now the biggest cause of long-term absence from work and so if you are a perfectionist and suffering from stress, is it time to start searching for strategies to help relieve this stress?
Here are a few tips to help:
1. Don’t waste time punishing yourself when you make a mistake. Learn from it and move on. You will be far more productive and your performance at work will improve.
2. If you are required to rectify an error, first go for a short walk allowing yourself time to be in the best frame of mind before approaching this task. Once you are feeling more positive, focus on the solution rather than the problem.
3. Set yourself realistic standards. If you are always striving for 100% perfection, you will spend the majority of your time feeling dissatisfied. Perfection may be expected of you but is it really possible?
4. Be flexible in your approach to work. If your working methods make you stressed, try a different approach. Remind yourself that if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same result.
5. If you are stuck for further ideas, consider if there is anyone else you trust who may be experiencing the same issue and ask how they are dealing with it.
...and a final point....always remember...
If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.