We have all encountered some version of perfectionism within ourselves. There are certainly ways in which perfectionism benefits us. Striving for flawlessness can often mean that you are thorough and scrupulous when approaching projects, which can be a useful skill. Perfectionism likely played a contributing role in your life successes thus far—a great resume, excellent grades…you get the picture.
But perfectionism doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Since it is rare to actually ever attain perfection, you can begin to believe that nothing you ever do is enough. You can get caught up in the small, irrelevant details, and make simple tasks into really complicated ones. In fact, perfectionism can also lead to procrastination. Why start something if it can never be perfect?
In our efforts to be perfect, we sometimes defeat ourselves entirely and actually end up performing worse than if we had aimed for merely “great,” “darned good,” or, dare I say, “good enough.” And perfectionism can also mess with our relationships. Aside from the amount of time that it takes away from relationships (perfectionism can be a real time-suck), it also creates a barrier whereby we don’t allow ourselves to be the imperfect individuals that we are by virtue of being human. Said another way: if we spend all our time worried that the other shoe is going to drop (i.e., that they’ll discover I’m not perfect), then we run the risk of never being our true selves with others. And if we hold others to the same standard of perfection, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment—the reality is, people are just not perfect.
So I want to challenge you, not to strive for perfection, but to accept “good enough”. Consider the amount of relief that will result from removing the pressure of perfection from your life. You may find that you have more time to participate in self-care activities. By not being perfect, you will show more of your true self, your humanness to others, resulting in deeper and more authentic relationships. And, ironically enough, you may just notice that your work is better when you don’t feel the need for it to be perfect.