5 Ways Striving for Perfection is Flawed

Come on Gen X Ladies, we have all been guilty of putting something off because it wasn't quite perfect.  Does this sound like you?

  • I want to have children, but first I want the big house and to be in a certain place in my career.

  • I know this project is due on Friday, but I am not happy with the template so I am going to scratch it and start over.

  • My blog should be posted already and yet the ending isn't exactly how I want it.

It doesn't matter if you are a constant perfectionist or you dabble in perfectionism. Either way, there have been times where you have tweaked, researched, shifted, scratched and stalled on a project just because it wasn't perfect.

I grew up in a baseball family and was quite obsessed, myself.  With every Yankee batter stepping up to the plate, I would cross my fingers and pray for a home run.  I was mesmerized by the home run dance. You know it, the crack of the ball hitting the bat, the batter casually flicking his wrist to release the ball all while his face is frozen with fake anticipation of the ball going over the fence. Oh, and how I loved the victory trot.  As a young child, I wanted to chastise my father for saying things like, 'just bunt the ball,' or 'stop swinging for the home run and just hit the ball.' It wasn't until I was older did I understand why he would get so upset. The same players would always swing for the home run, even when they only needed the single.  We all know how low the odds of hitting a home run vs. a base hit are, so more times than not, a batter would instead strikeout.

This made me think a lot about how detrimental it is to always swing for the home run.

Here are 5 ways striving for perfection is flawed;

  1. Destroys Self-Confidence: For perfectionists, the actual finished project will never be as perfect as you had envisioned. And even if it is this time, it is impossible for it to be every time. When you string together a number of not-perfect accomplishments, it begins to negatively impact your self-worth.

  2. Increases Procrastination: When the stakes are so high, subconsciously you believe you are going to fall short. This inner dialogue causes you to push off starting the project for fear of being disappointed by the end result.

  3. Crushes Creativity: Creativity is free-flowing and needs space. Striving for perfection will narrow your vision, causing you to be more rigid and analytical.

  4. You Become Critical of Others: You set the standards for yourself so high, it becomes impossible to for anyone to achieve them. Our expectations spill over beyond ourselves and onto those around us.

  5. Productivity Dwindles:  Nothing is ever finished because nothing is ever perfect. Instead of being able to move forward you get caught up in the tweaking, editing, reevaluating mode, causing everything to stall.

Confession, you are looking at a recovering high-achieving perfectionist.  While there are still times I strive for perfection, I have learned to know when good enough is great.  

I am not suggesting you should never swing for the fences.  Instead, know when a single or double will do.

Marissa Bishop