The Pursuit of PerfectionApril 4, 2017
Have you ever felt pressure to achieve perfection in your career, relationships, or personal life? Let’s talk about setting yourself free from the pursuit of perfection – and where to focus your effort and energy instead.
“Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect.” ~ Chinese Proverb
“Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.” ~ Salvador Dali
“Perfect is the enemy of the good.” ~ Voltaire
Don’t Let Perfection Become Your Prison
It’s admirable to set lofty standards. However, if you’re seldom satisfied with the outcome of your endeavors, you may have a touch of perfectionism.
Perfection can be a cruel task master. It casts a negative shadow, forcing you focus on what went wrong rather than what went well. In addition, perfection is associated with anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
We all want to be the best we can be at whatever we tackle … but we’re human, which means none of us is perfect. So how do you seek to shine and grow — without becoming a slave to perfection?
The Curse of Perfectionism: It’s Unattainable
Not only is flawlessness at odds with our humanity, its highly subjective; my perfect boss or perfect vacation might drive you crazy, and your vision of the perfect parent or project could be totally different from someone else’s.
Perfection is also problematic because it’s a moving target. You think you’ll find happiness once you get that next promotion, restore a relationship, or achieve a new goal. But perfection is a mirage; you’re positive you can see it in the distance, but as you move in closer, it keeps getting farther away.
Instead of Perfection, Seek Excellence
So how do you stop pursuing perfection without staying on the sidelines or giving up on your goals? Rather than seeking perfection, make excellence and growth your endgame.
Perfection can cause you to overlook your minor victories. Don’t wait to celebrate the completion of a project. Focus on doing great work and making incremental progress. And, be sure to celebrate small wins along the way. Learn to acknowledge your achievements and learn from your mistakes – find success in doing your best.
Remove Perfection from Your Happiness Equation
Life’s imperfections can be a stumbling block to joy – but they don’t have to be. True acceptance and peace don’t come from changing what is outside of you, but from appreciating what’s inside you. Since perfectionism is a learned behavior, the good news is that it can also be unlearned. By learning to find the joy in circumstances that aren’t perfect, you will feel happier, healthier, and at greater peace with your life.
Tips to Stop Chasing Perfection
- Establish attainable goals. Setting unrealistic goals traps you in a cycle of pursuit, failure, and frustration. Instead, create achievable goals that set you up for success and release you from the anxiety of perfection.
- Embrace imperfection. Our imperfections make us human – and our mistakes are our greatest teachers. Learn to embrace imperfection, instead of seeing it as failure. Allow room for mistakes even when shooting for high standards.
- Live in the present. The perfectionist constantly frets the future or replays the past, instead of living in the moment. Focusing on the present and taking things one step at a time can free you from the endless treadmill of perfection and leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled.
- Practice self kindness. Everyone’s definition of the “perfect” is different. So instead of critiquing yourself against a multitude of different standards, practice kindness towards yourself by focusing on and relishing in your unique talents and achievements.
At Leap Forward Coaching our process will help you create and become your best self – and our thoughtful methods will help you resist the internal and external pressures to pursue perfection.