The Imperfect Thing About Perfection

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Usually, when people strive for perfection, it is because they want to compensate for what they see as “inadequacies”. Perfectionists are often identified by the exaggerated sense of their own shortcomings. They view mistakes as a cancer rather than an opportunity for (un)learning; so they are prone to feeling like losers, no matter how much they have accomplished. Apart from the toll this takes on their mental welfare, it also affects their relationship with others due to the unrealistic standards they have set.

With such a craze for flawlessness, perfectionists somehow end up becoming underachievers. When the bar is set so high (unrealistically to be precise), procrastination and frustration tend to creep in.  For instance, if there’s a project deadline, they procrastinate so long―in a bid to do a ‘perfect’ job―that they end up rushing at the last minute only to produce a mediocre work. And in situations as this, failure to meet up with the set perfect standards could possibly lead to self-disdain, which is all shades of unhealthy.

Rather than trying to be perfect, go for excellence!

Having something done well gives pleasure and boosts self-confidence. For a perfectionist, however, it is difficult to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor because they rather obsess over minute flaws. Regarding this, some psychologists have introduced the concept of ‘healthy perfectionism’ which is basically striving for excellence without being overly self-critical. Healthy perfectionists are said to be aware of their limitations but choose to focus more on their strengths. And this is where living in the present comes into play.

Being present helps us stay aware and possibly wary of any avoidable error. Without any unrealistic yardstick for measuring personal growth, we’re free to really be in the moment. It is therefore ironic that perfectionists are not present; they’re either busy critiquing the past or worrying about the future.

By staying present and pursuing excellence, one can accept that mistakes are inevitable and value the lessons involved. With this state of mind, it becomes easy to remain flexible and adjust or adapt to dynamic situations should the need arise.

The goal is progress, not perfection. 


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