Perfect Isn’t Perfect. 6 Ways Perfectionism is Hurting You.

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OK, so this topic REALLY hits home.  It’s extremely hard for me to do anything (including writing this) without wanting it to be “perfect”.  Here’s the truth, it took me over an hour of procrastinating to actually start writing this blog post. My negative internal voice kept telling me that I have no business writing this and it will be a total piece of garbage.  Talk about stopping you dead in your tracks for fear of failure. Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard on recognizing my perfectionist, self-sabotage talk and put into place some coping strategies to keep my life moving forward.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve NOT done something for fear that it wouldn’t be perfect.  Starting a business is just one example. There have been at least three times previously where I was just about to launch a business and I just couldn’t jump because I didn’t feel it was the perfect time, the perfect idea, or that I had the perfect skills.  Finally, I recognized that I was the ONLY one stopping me from achieving my goals because perfect is NEVER going to happen. Truth is, now is not anymore perfect than it was the last time I tried.


Here are the 6 Ways Perfectionism is Hurting You

  1. You are completely self-sabotaging yourself.  I recently listened to a fantastic audiobook called “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks.  In the book, Gay talks about how we all reach a level of success in whatever it is that we do, whether it’s in a job, as a mother, as a partner, etc., but we never take the big leap beyond that level because we are too scared to know what more success will look like and whether we have the ability to handle it.  I think the same can be said as we strive for perfectionism. We get to a certain point where we become stalled and don’t move forward because we realize nothing will ever be perfect enough.

  2. It limits your creativity.  Think about it, if you believe every idea, thought, action has to be perfect you will never take the risk on that one crazy good half-baked idea for fear of failure.  According to Nielsen, more than 85% of new CPG (Consumer Product Goods) products fail. Knowing that statistic could stop anyone from ever trying to develop something new again for fear of failure.  From my experience in product development, NOTHING is ever perfect at launch. You have to adapt quickly to the demands and responses of the consumer.

  3. You will feel like a failure (quite the opposite of perfect).  Quite simply, since perfectionism is never going to be attainable, you will constantly feel like a failure for never reaching the holy grail of everything being perfect.  Instead you constantly feel like shit.

  4. Nothing is or ever will be enough.  In the quest for a life of perfection, you are always striving for more because you never feel content with what you have.  You always think more money, more possessions, more beauty, etc. will finally make you feel perfect and have the life you always wanted.  Problem is, when you get more, you still don’t have that level of satisfaction and the vicious cycle continues. Perfectionism can behave like an addiction.    

  5. You will miss out on life and being true to who you are.  Perfectionism can be debilitating.  We all have big dreams and goals for ourselves.  You may never share them with anyone for fear of judgement or fear that you can never be perfect in attaining that dream or goal.  The sad thing is because the quest for perfection is so debilitating, we often never chase our dreams or true purpose in life because we are afraid life won’t be perfect from day 1 and failure is imminent.  So, we stay with status quo and keep dreaming.

  6. You are looking for others to give you worth and value.  If you truly think about the need to attain perfection, it traces back to the desire to gain recognition.  Often times if you desire to be perfect than you are looking for some external validation of your worth and value.  Unfortunately, if we rely on the opinions of others to give us worth, we end up living a life of pleasing others instead of living the life we truly want.  

In the end, any one or the culmination of all of these ways ends up leading to one thing:  unhappiness.  Ultimately, perfectionism isn’t a strength or a quality that should be placed on a pedestal.  I think many people gloat (I did) that they are a perfectionist because of the validation they receive that this is a strong quality to possess.  I mean how many times have you heard that it is a good thing to say in an interview? Unfortunately on the inside many of us self-proclaimed perfectionists are (have been) miserable and chasing a life that will never be our own.   It’s time to live in contentment, accept that failure will happen, and be true to who you are. Tell that backseat driver, fear, to shut the hell up and drive off into the ‘perfect’ sunset.