Some believe that having high standards and working towards excellence is the same as perfection, but it is not! You can have high standards with a committed focus on excellence and not be a perfectionist.
“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.” - Brené Brown
For many, driving toward perfection, being flawless and constantly measuring their own performance to live error-free, is their ultimate goal.
Often people strive for perfection out of fear of failure and spend their time mourning their disappointments instead of reveling in their achievements and planning future accomplishments. Whatever the reason, there is a high price to pay when perfection is the goal.
The Downside of Striving for Perfection
It’s difficult to understand how striving to be perfect can affect one negatively, but it can. If you place your emphasis on small mistakes and getting things perfect all of the time, you miss out on so many other things happening around you. We must realize that striving to be perfect is not the same as striving to be our best. When we consider Brené Brown’s above quote, we understand the need to be perfect can become a defense mechanism to guard us against the pain and threat of failure and the need to be accepted. Perfection directs our focus to what others think of us rather than on improving ourselves.
Changing your Focus and Behaviour
Change can be difficult, especially when we enjoy being in our comfort zone as much as we do. You can modify your mindset towards excellence, one step at a time. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s not possible to eliminate all perfectionist characteristics immediately. You can begin your self-improvement by selecting one or two of the strategies listed below to work on daily. Keep a journal of your progress to measure your success. How many symptoms listed below refer to your behaviour?
Helpful Ways To Reduce The Emphasis On Being Perfect
- Stop being our biggest critic
- Stop setting unrealistic standards
- Stop worrying about what others think
- Stop procrastinating
- Stop worrying about failing
- Allow ourselves to fail and learn from it
- Love and accept our non-perfect self
- Start our personal journey to excellence
Excellence does not Mean Perfection
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation,” Aristotle wrote. In other words, when we do the right things, we can achieve the virtue of excellence and it then becomes a habit. I believe we must place sharp attention on the things that are the most important to us which may force us to make some tough, but critical decisions. Excellence is a way of life that involves strong emotional intelligence, focus, passion, and energy. Our journey towards excellence can be challenging but will progress quickly when we make the effort to develop habits that allow us to thrive.