There are many ways in which people make their lives miserable. And if they were to face each other in a competition, the one in pole position would likely be in the pursuit of perfection. Why? Because for a perfectionist, anything less than perfect is a failure. This means failure is always guaranteed. And when it comes to important lessons learned in life, this is a hard pill to swallow.
At some point in your life, chances are you were strongly imbued by the idea that attaining perfection was the ultimate target for anyone trying to enjoy a fulfilling life. But it was only a matter of time before you realized that reality was very distant from this line of thinking. And this reality check is a necessary step, for anyone who wants to take back their life from the powerful grip of the illusion called perfectionism.
The Illusions of Perfectionism
So, what drives the pursuit of perfection? What is pulling the invisible strings of perfectionism? FEAR is the heart of perfectionism. The fear of:
– Being criticized and/or judged
– Making mistakes
– Disappointing other people
– Not being good enough
It is all these fears and many more that push perfectionists to set unachievable standards for themselves. Fear causes perfectionists to successively develop a series of illogical mindsets that ultimately dominant their way of thinking:
“If I do this perfectly, no one will find a reason to judge/criticize me.”
Sadly, criticism does not work this way. Even if perfectionism were attainable, people would still criticize you. Why? Because in most cases, judgement and criticism are emotional responses. People often criticize the flaws they see in themselves or the things they hate about themselves. They see you as a mirror that projects their own weaknesses. That said, you cannot avoid it.
“Attaining perfection will enable me to control the outcome.”Underneath the mask of perfectionism is the illusion of control.
“If I’m perfectly prepared for the job interview, they will definitely hire me.”
“If I’m a perfect teacher, then all my students will become successful.”
“If I host the perfect party, every single invitee will have a great time.”
It is this illusion that pushes perfectionists to believe that they can control how others feel about them and how they respond. However, when it comes to controllability, one of the most relevant lessons learned in life is that you can only control your beliefs, actions, and response towards circumstances. What other people believe and how they act is out of your control.
Why You Should Stop Pursuing Perfectionism
- It is unattainable
The main reason you should stop striving for perfection is that it is unattainable. No one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses, and you are no different. It is important to embrace this reality. Sometimes, satisficing (good enough) is really good enough! If you find yourself in a discipline where there is a low margin for error, instead of perfection, pursue excellence.
- You will waste a lot of time
If your focus is making everything perfect; then the best-case scenario is that you are going to be wasting a lot of time, and the worst-case scenario is that you will not act at all. What does this mean for you? As an employee, you will always struggle with deadlines and could potentially get fired. As a fledgling entrepreneur, you will start and end at the level of crafting the perfect business plan.
- You will push people out of your life
Being a perfectionist at work means that you will be expecting your colleagues or subordinates to have the same or similar standards as yourself. Considering that these excessive demands are impossible to attain, the people working with you or for you will always feel incompetent, and even undervalued. And no one likes to feel this way. As far as your personal life goes, you are likely to take everything in life very seriously, and the result will be the same.
Perfectionism will only end up stealing happiness, joy, and life satisfaction, through illusions and unattainable goals. One of the important lessons learned in life, is that pursuing progress and excellence are better alternatives for a fulfilling life.