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The Perfectionist's Handbook: Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes

Book Description

A guide for getting your perfectionism to work for you

Is perfectionism a good thing or does it get in our way? In The Perfectionist's Handbook, clinical psychologist Jeff Szymanski helps readers navigate their way out of the "perfectionism paradox": if your intentions are good (wanting to excel) and the outcomes you want are reasonable (to feel competent and satisfied), why would perfectionism backfire and result in unhappiness and stress? Learn when perfectionism will pay off, and when and why it sabotages you. Specific strategies are outlined throughout the book to help readers transform their perfectionism from a liability to an asset.

There is no reason to eliminate perfectionism altogether—instead, build on what's working and change what's not. The Perfectionist's Handbook helps readers to:

Distinguish between intention and strategy as a way of improving outcomes

Identify diminishing returns and how to redistribute time and resources

Make the most of mistakes rather than being preoccupied with trying to avoid them

Learn to focus on your "Top 10" list as a way of getting the most out of your life

Access others more effectively as a way of improving performance

Obtain more balance in their lives

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Introduction
  7. Part I: Understanding Your Perfectionism
    1. Chapter 1: Definitions and Types of Perfectionism
      1. Absence of Mistakes or Flaws
      2. Personal Standards
      3. Meeting an Expectation
      4. Order and Organization
      5. Ideals and “Just Right” Experiences
      6. Absolutes: Knowledge, Certainty, and Safety
      7. Being the Best and the “Best of the Best”
    2. Chapter 2: Building Your Perfectionism Profile
      1. Behavior: Personal Standards
      2. Behavior: Decision Making and Prioritizing
      3. Behavior: Meeting Deadlines
      4. Behavior: Order and Organization
      5. Behavior: Response to Making Mistakes
      6. Emotions
      7. Attention and Evaluation
      8. Interpersonal Relationships
    3. Chapter 3: Insight Doesn't Always Lead to Change
      1. Pros and Cons: An Overview
      2. Pros and Cons: Getting Specific
      3. A Risk-Benefit Analysis
      4. “Okay—I'm Ready to Change Some Things, But …”
      5. Stages of Change
      6. Processes of Change: Strategies to Help You Move Through the Stages of Change
      7. One More Thing to Consider: Think of Anxiety as Information
  8. Part II: Maximizing Healthy Perfectionism
    1. Chapter 4: Wanting Things to Be Perfect May Not Be the Problem
      1. Healthy Perfectionism, Unhealthy Perfectionism, and Nonperfectionism
      2. Perfectionistic Strategies That Typically Do Not Work
    2. Chapter 5: The Lesson of Diminishing Returns
      1. The Seduction: “More Is Better”
      2. When and Why the “More Is Better” Approach Doesn't Always Work
      3. Alternatives to “More Is Better”
    3. Chapter 6: Translating Mistakes into Strategic Experimentation
      1. The Seduction: Mistakes Are Avoidable
      2. When and Why Trying to Avoid Mistakes Doesn't Work
      3. Alternatives to Preoccupation with Mistake Making
    4. Chapter 7: An Unexamined Life
      1. The Seduction: Everything Is Equally Important
      2. When and Why “Everything Has to Be Equal” Doesn't Work
      3. The Alternative to “Everything Is Equal”
    5. Chapter 8: Even Jesus Needed Disciples
      1. The Seduction: Always be Seen Achieving Your Potential
      2. When and Why “Going It Alone” and “Never Let Them See You Sweat” Doesn't Work
      3. Alternatives to Going It Alone
    6. Chapter 9: All Work and No Play
      1. The Seduction: “Just One More Minute …”
      2. When and Why “All Work and No Play” Doesn't Work
      3. The Alternative to “Just One More Minute …”
    7. Chapter 10: Putting It All Together
      1. What to Keep in Mind to Shift away from Unhealthy Perfectionism
      2. Different Domains Affected by Perfectionism
      3. Stages of Change
      4. Final Step: Identifying the Strategies You Are Planning to Use
  9. Bibliography
  10. Index