Imperfect Perfectionism

Perfectionism is, in my opinion, on the OCD scale, somewhere between double checking your door is locked and the really debilitating extremes. We all want things to go well and maybe even hope that things will be perfect. The problem with perfection is that it’s unattainable, as discussed (near perfectly) by Jay White of dumblittleman.com .

 

Perfection is Subjective

Everyone’s definition of perfection is different. For this reason, trying to be perfect in everything you do is futile. Take for example a project at work. You work hard at making it perfect. But it’s only perfect to you. You have someone else review the work you did and they have some criticisms and suggestions for change. But how can this be you wonder, after all, it’s perfect!

Many perfectionists (myself included) don’t take criticism very well. This is because we tend to see the things we do as being perfect. When someone else doesn’t agree, we take offense to it.

Wasted Time

Related to the example cited above is wasted time. Thinking about the project, you most likely spent countless hours on it, making it perfect. When others review it and see things that need change, you have to go back and work on the project again. Had you simply made the project “good enough” you could have saved yourself hours.

For those non-perfectionists reading this, the term “good enough” might not sit well with you. I am not suggesting perfectionists be lazy or complete half-hearted work, I am suggesting the complete opposite. “Good enough” is the equivalent to great work done by a non-perfectionist. You have to realize that the perfectionist is a time waster by working on things until they see perfection. So “good enough” is still great work with many hours of time saved.

Long Completion Time

When a perfectionist works on a project, they spend countless hours on said project. This means that it will take a perfectionist a longer time to complete a task than others. This can be a career killer. Someone else might be able to complete the assignment in much less time.

Additionally, this issue can carry over into personal life as well. If you are a perfectionist, getting ready will take you much longer than it will for others. This could lead to fights and arguments with spouses and family members, as well as consistently being late for dates, meetings, get-togethers and appointments.

You’ll Probably End Up Alone

Another way perfectionism is bad is when it comes to relationships. Since a perfectionist needs to be perfect, he or she seeks a perfect mate as well. In this sense, they are looking for specific qualities in another person. Another way to put this is that they are looking for their Knight in Shining Armor or their Princess.The odds of a perfectionist finding someone with all of these exact qualities are extremely rare. As a result, they tend to end up alone.

You’re Afraid to Fail

At some point growing up, many of us begin to fear failing. I’m not certain when this happens or why, but it can be a destructive thing. It is OK to fail. In fact, I encourage failure and look forward to failing.This isn’t to say my goal is to fail all of the time. But I find that I learn more from failing than I do from succeeding. Failing builds character and helps me grow as a person.

Look at most professional sports teams and you will find failure. Many young teams that make the final series for the championship lose. This is because they don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for the attention and hype. Many that do lose come back in the following years and win it all. They learned from their failure and improved.

Look at most professional sports teams and you will find failure. Many young teams that make the final series for the championship lose. This is because they don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for the attention and hype. Many that do lose come back in the following years and win it all. They learned from their failure and improved.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Emace failure when it happens. Review everything that happened and learn from it.

Perfectionists Burn Out and are Unhealthy

Perfectionists tend to be stressed and have high levels of anxiety. Neither of these are good. Perfectionists give everything we do 110% and push ourselves to make things perfect all of the time. Imagine trying to live where everything you do has to be right and perfect. It doesn’t sound very fun does it? It almost sounds unattainable. Welcome to a typical day in the life of a perfectionist.

We place so much stress on ourselves we have health issues. At work, we burn out easily. We think that the job is extremely demanding and time consuming, but in reality, it is us that is extremely demanding. It is us that makes projects lasts weeks upon weeks so that they are perfect.

So there you have it. There’s nothing perfect about perfection. Perfectionism can affect almost every aspect of your life.  So as you go through your day, be sure to do your best but don’t worry about it being perfect.

Image courtesy of dumblittleman.com

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