Do You Want to Be Perfect or Do you Want to Be Successful?
Some people take pride in their drive to be perfect. But perfectionism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Confusing perfectionism with excellence wastes time, creates stress, and stands in the way of success.
Doing a good job isn’t the same as being perfect. Ideally, any task can be completed at a level that ensures success. That level is well below the level of absolute perfection. When you let go and release something that is less than perfect, it opens the door for new ideas, new approaches, and better end results.
Avoid perfection and accomplish more. Here is why:
- Perfection isn’t possible. The definition of perfection is to be freedom from fault or defect, or from biblical connotations, lacking nothing necessary to completeness. Given those definitions, nothing can ever be perfect. You might as well go looking for a unicorn.
- The need to be perfect is a sign of insecurity. The drive for perfection is an attempt to compensate for a perceived lack of adequacy. When you believe you aren’t good enough as you are, it’s common to believe that doing everything perfectly will prove that you are capable and adequate. That’s a heavy burden to carry through life.
- The need for perfection leads to procrastination. It can be tough to even take the first step if you believe that the outcome must be perfect.
- Perfection is unhealthy. Perfectionists are more prone to heart disease, anxiety, and mental health issues. The quest for perfection causes stress. Stress is damaging to your body and mind.
- Perfection leads to unreasonable expectations. Does it really matter if you can’t answer every question on the certification exam? As long as you pass, you are certified.
- Perfection is rooted in anger. Perfectionists feel contempt for anything less than perfection. This isn’t healthy. It also makes you unpleasant to be around. No one will ever meet your standards and your anger towards them isn’t appreciated.
- Perfection and happiness are at odds. Happy people don’t feel the need to be perfect. And people that are driven to be perfect are too consumed to experience happiness. Do you know a perfectionist that you would describe as happy?
Perfectionism requires a tremendous amount of time and gets in the way of happiness and success. Ask yourself why you feel the need to do things perfectly. Perform tasks to a level that results in success. Going beyond that point is foolish and unnecessary.
If you drive yourself to perfection, you can recognize it as a self-defeating pattern and change. According to Dr. Richard Carlson in his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, just recognizing the pattern will give you more control an enable you to make better decisions.
8 Actions That Get You Past Your Perfectionism
Perfectionism can cause paralysis. It creates fear and stops you from living your dreams. When you’re worried about making everything perfect, nothing gets done.
Try these tips to get past your perfectionism so you can move forward:
- Pay attention to your inner thoughts. Perfectionism can sneak up on you and take over your thoughts. Listen to your self-talk. According to Jack Canfield in his book, The Success Principles, when you are aware of your inner critic, you can transform it into an inner coach.
- Try to stop negative thoughts such as, “You’re not good enough,” or, “Not like that! It must be perfect!”
- Substitute your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, like, “This looks great! You did a good job. It’s a fine effort.”
- Just get things done. When you are too focused on making everything perfect, it slows you down. Instead, remember to stick to a schedule and meet deadlines.
- Make your standards realistic.
- Forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness can free you from perfectionism. Remind yourself that no one is perfect and everyone has faults. Learn to forgive yourself and others for mistakes.
- Try to find beauty in the imperfect.
- Keep in mind that second chances are usually available. Even if you can’t do something perfectly the first time, you may have the opportunity to fix it later.
- Learn to reframe the experience. Focus on the positive aspects, such as the lessons the mistake has taught you.
- Keep in mind that failure is a normal part of the journey to success.
- Avoid spending days going over the mistake in your mind. Learn to move past.
- Find balance in your life. Perfectionism can creep into many parts of your life. It can take over your family, relationships, and career. It’s important to strive for balance.
- Try to avoid focusing on just one aspect of your life. Instead, keep things balanced by spending time with friends, family, and coworkers.
- Avoid neglecting important things such as your hobbies, personal health, or children.
- Change your mindset. Changing how you think about things can be a powerful way to combat perfectionism. The way you view the world can influence every part of your being. Learn to find the good in everything and be happy with it.
- Do you have an all or nothing attitude that paints everything in black or white? Or can you see the gray areas?
- The key to avoiding perfectionism is to realize that the world isn’t divided into perfect parts that can always be analyzed. Instead, it’s a complicated mix that has many moving parts. The same applies to your mind.
- Focus on making progress. Even a failure is progress because it moves you closer to finding success.
You can learn to move past perfectionism. Once you free your mind from perfectionism, you’ll feel happier, you will accomplish more, and success will come much easier.
If you need more help, hire a personal coach. In his book, The Success Principles, Jack Canfield says that having a personal coach is worth more than money because it helps you identify obstacles, get clear on your vision, and keep you accountable so you will achieve your goals.