We live in a culture where striving for perfection is hailed as a virtue. Over the centuries, that ideal has become embedded in our collective consciousness as something to aspire to consistently. Perfection is what drives us to improve upon past efforts and keep working to better ourselves at every opportunity. While that sounds like a good thing, it is time we came to terms with how much damage this personality trait can cause in the long run.
Below I’m going to talk about five reasons you must stop striving for perfection and give yourself a happier and more fulfilling life.
1. Perfectionism leads to high levels of stress.
A perfectionist often experiences extreme stress because, in their view, things are rarely good enough. They go through life, continually worrying about making everything perfect. It is an unhealthy mindset as it keeps you from feeling satisfaction and deriving fulfillment from your work.
Chasing perfection means having to live with a relentless inner voice that continually tells you to work harder while also reminding you that nothing you do is good enough. When left unchecked, this habit may lead to burnout. You may feel so exhausted mentally and emotionally that you will find it easier to give up altogether.
“Here’s the uncomfortable truth about perfection. It’s often just insecurity in disguise.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
2. Refusing perfection helps you deal with change more comfortably.
As they say, change is the only constant. But if you’re focused on keeping things perfect at all times, it will get more and more complicated and frustrating to deal with change. You may set up an ideal schedule for the day and set your mind to accomplish every task on your list.
But then life throws a curveball, and all the best-laid plans can go out the window in an instant. What do you do then? You can fret over the new situation and keep struggling to keep things perfect. Or, you can accept the change, get comfortable with the less-than-perfect situation, and make the most of what you have. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which is the more wholesome approach.
3. You will be braver about taking risks.
The more you chase perfection, the more you stop yourself from taking risks. Perfectionism is often driven by an extreme fear of failure. It creates a mindset when you tell yourself that it is not even worth trying if something can’t be done perfectly. You shy away from new opportunities and different challenges that could be quite rewarding if pursued.
This is the mindset that stops you from applying for a new job or a better position and keeps you stuck in the same place with hardly any scope for growth or progress. The fear of failure, then, becomes an unexpected roadblock to success. Once you let go of the need for perfection, you will be able to take risks and become more open to new experiences.
4. Perfectionism stifles creativity
Just as perfectionism keeps you from taking risks and trying new things, it also suffocates your creative impulses. If you’ve hit on a perfect way of doing something, you will no longer rely on your creativity or imagination to solve problems. Your work will suffer in the long run from a lack of innovation.
When you forget about being perfect for a second and focus on doing something new or trying the same old thing in a new way, it is bound to be rewarding no matter the result. You will learn something new about yourself and also pick up a new skill. Being creative helps you grow as a person and gives you a unique personality – and being unique makes life much more fun and fulfilling than striving after perfection.
“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” – Winston Churchill
5. Saying no to perfection will leave you with more time.
If you are or have been a perfectionist, you may be familiar with how little leisure time is left to yourself. Perfectionists inculcate certain habits that keep them so occupied with their work that it takes up all their time. For example, they are prone to multitasking, they avoid taking breaks, and they refuse to delegate tasks.
Perfectionism creates an all-or-nothing mentality where you struggle with delegating tasks to others because you don’t trust them to do things perfectly. Since you disapprove of how other people accomplish their tasks, you start to believe that it would be easier to do everything yourself. All that does is leave you buried under a mountain of work, feeling exhausted, cranky, and unable to kick back and relax.
As you can see, striving towards perfection isn’t all it’s cooked up to be. Perfectionists often turn into their own worst enemies and create problems and suffer easily avoidable stress. By saying no to perfection, at least every once in a while can help you replenish your energy while still continuing to chase excellence. Perfection may seem like an ideal, but it causes most headaches and is not something worth sacrificing your mental and physical well-being for. If a life well-lived is what you aspire for, it may be time to give up seeking perfection and focus on things that truly matter.