I wanted to be able to do many things well when I started my SEO career. I wanted to be the person who:

  • From 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., I was in the office
  • They were super motivated, tenacious, and energized throughout the day, thanks to their daily successes.
  • Highly impressed by her bosses, and her coworkers.
  • Continually promoted.
  • Great work delivered under extremely tight deadlines, yet managed to never miss appointments, talks, presentations, or dinners with friends.

I tried. But I was not even 30 when I experienced severe burnout.

This is not an isolated experience. Perfectionionism is a common problem in many industries.

According to a Twitter poll, 30.2% of 464 SEO professionals consider themselves perfectionists.

In our careers, perfectionist expectations can be a hindrance. According to research by The Hardin Group, 33% of employees may be considering leaving their job because of it.

This article will discuss why perfection is important and how SEO professionals can overcome unhealthy perfectionist tendencies.

Perfectionism at work

Young professionals, regardless of their industry, tend to admire people with a “perfect” lifestyle. They place them on a pedestal. We consider them the epitome and embodiment of success and give them the glamorous title of “perfectionist”.

It might seem incredibly ungracious to think of these characters as having issues that could be made more relatable to our miserable lives.

We ask ourselves: “In this unenthusiastic and unstable world, what’s the point complaining about an overzealous pursuit for perfection?” “Besides, all I want to be inspirational, right?”

What could be more flawed than striving for perfection in something that is routinely done by SEO experts?

I don’t criticize those who strive to be perfectionists. We are the lucky recipients of their incredible work in the SEO community.

Perfectionism can have devastating effects on our mental and spiritual health.

The roots of perfectionionism

Human nature is wired to seek out the glamorous and attractive in everything that seems impossible or unattainable.

To value something, it must cost to us.

It is easy to overlook what is free or easily accessible, even if it is of high quality or the best we have.

Perfectionism is not born from the desire to see things perfectly and make no mistakes. Its roots are much darker.

It is caused by memories of emotional neglect and disapproval from our parents or maternal/paternal figures that we grew up with.

Emotional neglect can lead to self-comparison and idealization, as well as toxic competitiveness. It also makes it difficult to accept others for who they are.

When we began working in SEO, perfection was not possible.

It has been there for us all, and it was evident at the beginning of our careers.

Why are perfectionists so common?

“Perfectionists are driven to impossible, high-level goals and standards. This can only lead to depression and loneliness.”

The Perfectionist Script for Self-Defeat, David D. Burns Psychology Today

When we try to change the image we have created about ourselves, we become perfectionists.

Unworthy, a nuisance or someone who fails to live up to expectations.

We feel so inadequate and ashamed that we are willing to do anything is required to validate our work and be more than enough.

Is that enough? This is mediocre.

Perfectionists strive to be the best at all aspects of their lives.

Their actions are subconsciously expressing the words “Love me, Like me, Accept me, Follow me” every day.

A perfectionist doesn’t care about producing flawless work. They only want to escape the belief they are terrible people.

Social media and work are just ways they try to be more acceptable in our eyes.

It is not possible to solve the problem of perfectionists being perfectionists because the root issue didn’t begin with work.

Perfectionists are motivated by feeling like a worthwhile person, not career success.

It is not the responsibility of our employers or the SEO community to be appreciated, valued, and praised.

The community will demand more from us once we have done our best with perfectionistism. This is natural and not sinister.

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Here are four ways to overcome perfectionist tendencies.

1. Healthy channeling

It is important to identify what motivates or triggers you to be perfect and then to channel that energy healthily.

It is equally important to change the mindset that causes us to work hard and believe we are not worthy human beings.

When we feel worthless and dreadful, working harder is not the solution.

It is important to be kind to yourself and to understand that we are worthy of being accepted. It’s not our fault if we aren’t accepted for whatever reason.

2. Self-compassion

Imagine yourself as a child. Take a look at that little face and ask yourself: “Is it too much asking to believe in myself every time I send a report, apply to a job or pitch to speak at conferences?”

What would you answer?

It is admirable to be ambitious and work well. It can also be a sign that you are in mental turmoil if it is used to cover a desire for affection.

3. Self-awareness and rest

We should not only plan the calendar periods but also be with ourselves.

This is a way of being kind to ourselves and allowing all those feelings of anger to come out . Let them be and move on.

4. Forgiveness and letting it go

It is important to remember that even though they emotionally neglected us as children, it doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t care about us. They might not have known how to say it.

People who made us feel inadequate because they “wanted the best” for us were likely living their lives through us, and may have genuinely desired the best for our lives.

It is important to learn how to be self-aware, take responsibility, and let go.

When we begin to let go, healing begins.

We learn to care more about ourselves when we heal and less about pleasing others. In other words, healing is the art of not giving a damn.

Dig deeper:

  • Perfection is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016 – Curran T. & Hill A. P. (2019).
  • Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health estimates – World Health Organization (2017/08)

Search Engine Land’s first article, Perfectionism in SEO: A path to self-destruction appeared on Search Engine Land.