Many of us spend considerable time striving to be perfect. Personally, seeking perfection served me well for many years until I realized that perfectionism is irrelevant if I focus on excellence.
While striving for perfection, I benefited from numerous career opportunities, as I regularly delivered perfect or near-perfect results. These results lead me to believe that I would remain successful if I continued to strive for perfection. This belief kept me safely nestled in my comfort zone; however, I realized it affected my health and limited my growth potential over time.
The downside of striving for perfection
It’s hard to believe that striving to be perfect can affect you negatively, but it can! Here’s the thing, if you focus on small mistakes and getting things perfect, you miss out on happenings in your environment. We must realize that striving to be perfect is not the same as trying for your best. Brené Brown says, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame.” The need to be perfect can become a defence mechanism to guard us against failure's pain and threat. Sadly, perfection encourages us to focus on what others think of us rather than on improving ourselves.
There is a better way…trust me
Once I embraced my emotional intelligence and became more self-aware, I learned that striving for perfection is not only an unhealthy way to live; it's impossible. When I focus on being perfect, I'm missing many essential things in my life, and I've come to believe that getting things done trumps perfection, reduces procrastination and enhances productivity.
I speak specifically about this during my workshops and coaching sessions to encourage others to recognize the benefits of focusing on self-improvement rather than perfection and the importance of making errors and learning from them.
How to make the change and what to focus on
Instead of striving for perfection, focus on how to:
- Stop being your biggest critic.
- Stop setting unrealistic standards.
- Stop worrying about what others think.
- Stop procrastinating.
- Stop worrying about failing.
- Allow yourself to fail and learn from it.
- Love and accept your non-perfect self.
- Start your journey to excellence.
“Excellence does not mean perfection. We all make mistakes and take the odd wrong turn on our life’s journey. But if we pause long enough each day to prioritize what’s important to us, we’ve cleared the path ahead for progress and the next steps toward excellence.” – Linda Marshall
Change your life by adjusting your mindset and begin your journey to excellence one step at a time instead of focusing on perfection. Be sure to check out many more motivational blogs here. If you'd like to take an emotional intelligence assessment, check this out.
This article was originally published on August 18, 2018, and has been updated (November 2020).
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