Breaking the Chains of Perfection: Your Journey to a Happier You

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Insights, Motivational, News

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.

 Is Trying To Be Perfect Ruining Your Life?

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 I would remain successful if I continued striving for perfection. This belief kept me safely nestled in my comfort zone; however, I realized it affected my health and limited my growth potential.

Marshall Connects blog, Breaking the Chains of Perfection: Your Journey to a Happier You

The Downside Of Striving For Perfection

It’s hard to think that striving to be perfect can affect you negatively, but it can! Here’s why: if you focus on minor 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 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 perfection, I miss 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.

"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, Author,  and thought leader in emotional intelligence.

Strategies To Reduce The Constant Need To Strive For Perfection

  • Set Realistic Goals - Instead of aiming for perfection, set achievable and realistic goals. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Embrace Mistakes - Understand that making mistakes is part of learning. Instead of dwelling on them, use them as opportunities for growth.
  • Practice Self-Compassion - Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Don't be overly critical of your shortcomings.
  • Prioritize Self-Care - Take time for self-care activities that help you relax and reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies you enjoy.
  • Challenge All-or-Nothing Thinking - Avoid thinking in absolute terms. Not everything has to be perfect; there's often a middle ground that's more than acceptable.
  • Set Time Limits - Avoid spending excessive time on a task to make it perfect. Set time limits to prevent overworking and stressing over details.
  • Seek Feedback - Ask for constructive feedback from others. Their input can provide a more balanced perspective and help you improve.
  • Delegate - Don't hesitate to delegate tasks when working in a team. Trust others to contribute their skills and expertise.
  • Let Go of Control - Understand that you can't control everything. Sometimes, letting go and allowing things to unfold naturally can lead to positive outcomes.
  • Focus on Progress, Not Perfection - Shift your focus from achieving perfection to making progress. Celebrate small wins along the way.
  • Limit Social Comparison - Avoid constantly comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. Remember that people usually share the highlights, not the complete picture of their lives.
  • Stay Mindful - Practice mindfulness to stay in the present moment and reduce anxiety about the future or past mistakes.

You can change your life by adjusting your mindset and begin your journey to excellence one step at a time instead of focusing on perfection. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate all aspects of striving for excellence but to strike a healthy balance that allows you to lead a more fulfilling and less stressful life. 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 (October 2023).

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