Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – Julia Cameron
Most of us have been brought up with the quote ” Practice makes perfect”. We believe that perfection is a virtue to aspire for. Perfection is very useful in making us want to do a good job and delivering outstanding results. However when perfectionism starts driving us rather than we driving for perfection it is time to take a closer look and understand if we are in trouble.
Perfectionism often leads to the following problems:
- Limits thought, inclusivity and creativity: Perfectionists live with the idea that there is only one best way and that is the way they like it. As a result it limits respect for individuality and diversity when working with others. We have all worked with a boss or colleague who is never happy with the outcome. Working with such an individual besides being highly stressful is bound to limit creativity and thought as there is no place for deviations or opinions other than those believed in by the perfectionist. Science and research on the other hand prove that the best outcomes come from diverse groups where individual creativity is encouraged. So by pushing for the “perfect way” perfectionists lose out on getting the best from their team.
- Never getting it done: One big reason for a lot of stuff not getting done in life is waiting for the perfect time, perfect opportunity, perfect person,perfect outcome. If we all waited for our ducks to fall in line nothing would really get done. Sometimes completing a job is more important than doing it perfectly. Often working and reworking a solution makes us or people around us lose interest. The task at hand may begin to lose priority over other more urgent or important work till it eventually gets pushed into oblivion. The worlds biggest procrastinators are often perfectionists.
- Hiding fear: ”Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield. – Brene Brown.” People often use the guise of wanting something to be perfect as a ruse to avoid taking action or making themselves vulnerable to ridicule or being wrong. Perfectionism often stems from a need for approval or a the fear of having to deal with failure. If this is a core reason for you to want to perfect everything it may be of value to explore these needs and fears further and resolve them.
- Stress over unimportant things: Perfectionists are never satisfied with themselves. They are constantly criticising themselves and stressing over outcomes, even the ones they have no control over. These are the people who find it difficult to accept anything less than first place. It is important to choose your battles. Not every war is worth fighting or winning. Understand what is a priority and focus on those things rather than giving the same importance to everything.
- Constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction: For perfectionists life is about measuring up to their unrealistic and demanding standards. They constantly feel that they are short of meeting their standards and as a result are often unhappy and dissatisfied. The joys of the times that they do feel they achieved their goal are short-lived and only last till the next task to prove themselves arrives.