The Case for Not Being a Perfectionist
At one time, I was on a path to become a perfectionist. Thankfully, I came to realize that striving to be perfect was too stressful.
Perfectionism is a constant challenge. When you’re a perfectionist, you have to be relentlessly organized. You have to be ready for anything all the time so that you’re not caught stumbling and fumbling. You have to be punctual; even a minute late would be less than perfect. You have to have all your ducks—and everything else—in a row. Everything you say has to be just so. When you’re a perfectionist, there’s no room for error, because every slip or mistake mean you’re not perfect.
When you’re a perfectionist, your work is never done because you're convinced that with a little more effort, and then more and more and more, you can do better. This is a tough way to live.
If you possess any of the traits commonly associated with perfectionists, it can be just as challenging for others as it is for you. One such trait, for example, is an all-or-nothing mindset: Either you achieved your goal or fell short. Almost doesn’t count.
Another trait is setting unrealistical expectations. Setting the bar at a level that’s almost impossible to reach guarantees disappointment and ensures a constant state of stress and frustration. This trait goes hand in hand with the fear of failure because if you’re not 100 percent successful in reaching the bar, you’re a failure.
A related trait is expecting as much of others as you do of yourself. This may cause you to be critical of others who don’t measure up—and if they’re not as much of a perfectionist as you, they can never measure up.
Whether you are a pure-bred perfectionist or merely possess some of these perfectionist traits, you may want to try being a little more relaxed about how you view yourself and others. Remember, the opposite of perfectionism isn’t mediocrity. Even as a nonperfectionist, you have to do your job to the best of your ability, and you have to be serious about matters in which the consequences of error or delay are serious.
If you’re a perfectionist or have perfectionist tendencies, consider adjusting your priorities to something more realistic. Try to dispense with all-or-nothing thinking. Be willing to make mistakes—and to learn from them.
And remember, it’s not just about flawlessly reaching a goal or destination. Getting there is part of the fun. Try to enjoy the ride.