Health Magazine

Never Strive to Be Perfect

By Rebecca_sands @Rebecca_Sands

Perfectionism on Daily Inspiration Board

Aah, perfection. Isn’t that the ideal goal? Well, yes and no.

We should always strive to do more, to be more. That is the human condition. If we were to stay the same, well, that would be ridiculous. Who wants to be exactly as they were yesterday, and experience the same things over and over again? No one, ever.

However, perfectionism is equally as debilitating as doing nothing at all. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, and in fact, we should strive not to be perfect (coming from someone who is a reforming perfectionist).

Here’s why you should never strive to be perfect.

Attempting to achieve perfection is unachievable, and we’re automatically setting ourselves up for failure

This sounds obvious, when you lay it out like that. But it’s not, really. We all start out at things with the goal of being the best in mind. It’s a natural thing to do. You don’t start something and go, “oh yeah, I’m going to get this thing going and then I’m going to be number 485th at it. Wow! How exciting!”, or “I’m going to put my heart and soul into this but I’d be happy to be not quite as good as Sally and Joan.” No. We start out saying, “I’m going to be the best. I’m going to be number one.” Because otherwise – what’s the point?

The thing is, and it’s the thing that no one trains us in and no one tells us in advance, it’s enough to be the best you you can be. It’s enough that you have a goal that you strive for, and to have a goal you want to protect. It’s part of cultivating happiness. You don’t have to be the best at everything – and in fact, as being the best requires a huge amount of work and dedication, you’re unlikely to ever be ‘the best’ at more than one thing at a time. Yet, many of us find ourselves in this never-ending cycle of trying to be the best in our career, the best husband or wife or girlfriend or boyfriend, the best friend, the best at our chosen sport, the best at music, and so on. Or, if we’re not the best, we often give up.

Sometimes, it’s enough just to enjoy doing something for the sake of it. Just because you want to, and because it makes you happy.

Perfect on Daily Inspiration Board

Perfectionism can be self-annihilating

When you demand perfection of yourself, you’re actually reinforcing the belief that you’re not good enough as you are. I read somewhere recently that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. That’s a lot of practice, repetition and just plain hard work. Let’s say you have eight hours a day of working time. That’s 1,250 eight-hour days; 250 working weeks; 20.8 months or 1.7 years of full-time work. (If my calculations are correct).

If it’s something you do for the love of it and not full-time work, even if you’re spending an hour a day, five times per week, that figure needs to be multiplied by 8. It would take 13.6 years to fully master it. There’s only so many hours in the day, right? We need to prioritise – and this is why it’s so important to do work that we love. Unless we work ridiculously hard at something, we’re unlikely to be the best, and that’s okay in the majority of our interests. It doesn’t say anything about us – except that we’ve chosen to focus our efforts elsewhere.

Exercise at Daily Inspiration Board

I believe that we all have the right to be great at something, and be recognised for our talents

I have worked in jobs where my unique talents weren’t recognised and where I just felt like I wasn’t as good as others at anything I did. I felt like my self-confidence relied on these boosts of praise from others, and I was torn down when I didn’t receive these boosts. I have felt that need to persevere regardless in order to pay the rent – which is humiliating and far too common in today’s workforce.

These situations are always difficult, but they’re particularly difficult when you are a perfectionist. Every hit is amplified, and every obstacle perceived as the failure of one’s self. The thing to become aware of is that it’s you that’s not recognising your self worth. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

For more on cultivating self-worth in the workplace, read my post here about how your hard work is taking you places.

When have you felt the need to overcome perfectionist tendencies? 

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