Perfection is oftentimes flaunted as a positive trait. People who are very meticulous and detail-oriented will describe themselves as perfectionists (I'm 100% guilty of that!). However, being meticulous and being a perfectionist do not have interchangeable meanings. Perfection has a way of coming across like a good thing at first glance, but upon further inspection it's anything but good. It's like meeting a person who seems like they'd be a really fun person to hang out with and befriend, only to find out that they're untrustworthy or talk about you behind your back. If perfectionism were a person, you would not want to be friends. Here are 5 simple reasons why perfectionism isn't your friend.
1. It's deceitful. Perfectionism dresses itself up in a disguise of being a good and desirable trait. Like I said before, people who often describe themselves as perfectionists are meaning to use the word in a positive manner. They want to convey that they are ruthlessly meticulous and work hard to put a stamp of quality on everything they do. A desire for things to be perfect seems like it should be a good thing, but this is another way that perfectionism can deceive you. When we set the bar at the level of perfection, we are setting it as high as it can possibly go. We aren't taking into account our personal strengths and weaknesses and how those affect our performance. When we set our sights on perfection instead of doing our personal best, we are setting ourselves up for a rough road ahead.
2. It's a killjoy. Expressing creativity in all different forms is something that should bring joy! I know I'm happiest when creating something. However, I can also speak from firsthand experience when I say that as soon as perfection enters my mindset, the joy of creating can quickly get lost. When creating with the end goal of perfection, things go downhill quickly. We get discouraged and disheartened easily. We're more susceptible to comparing ourselves and our successes to others, and we lose our joy. Would a good friend discourage you or feed your insecurities? Surely not, which is precisely why perfectionism makes a crummy friend.
3. It's unobtainable. Perfection will deceive you into thinking that if you push yourself harder, if you put in more hours, if you just tweak your website a little more, if you change your style to be more like that successful person's style, then you will achieve the best of the best. With this mindset, we run the risk of becoming discontent and insecure. Here's a further exploration of why perfectionism is unobtainable:
- Perfection is totally subjective. Each person holds their own standard of what is perfect.
- Perfection is fleeting. Even if you feel like you've accomplished perfection, the feeling won't last. You'll always have to work harder to maintain perfection, to the point where you risk creative burnout. Not to mention that as you grow in your craft, your expectations and your personal standard of great work (and what you view as being perfect) will constantly evolve over time.
- Perfection is unrealistic. Obtaining perfection isn't possible because at the very heart of it, no person is perfect. We all make mistakes, but it's out of our mistakes that we grow and learn. If everything were perfect, how could we improve?
4. It's stifling. Underneath it all, perfection is a product of fear. Let's say you're afraid of launching our website, so you're going to make sure it's perfect before you put it out for the world to see. The only problem with that scenario is that you would never launch your website because it won't ever be perfect. If you're fearful, you're going to keep finding things to improve so that you can put off facing your fear head-on. I couldn't even tell you how many times I've used the "I'm just a perfectionist" excuse for procrastinating and not facing up to something that scares me. There have even been times that I put something off so long that it never happened. Don't make the same mistake I've made!
Here's an inspirational quote, hand-written just for you! Friends, don't be fearful of making a mistake, and definitely don't be afraid of being successful. Starting something you have a huge personal investment in is scary, especially when you don't know the outcome, but don't let the unknown hold you back from achieving great things!
5. It's boring. I'm finding out more and more that perfection is actually really boring. Beautiful, interesting and innovative things have been born out of mistakes, mishaps, and imperfections. If someone has managed to master perfection, then they've reached a plateau. Once you reach perfection, then where do you go from there? I think I prefer a life of adventure and growth and learning. Wouldn't you agree?
So, we've learned that perfectionism clearly isn't cut out to be our friend. However, there is an alternative to perfectionism that makes an outstanding friend to any creative, and that's excellence. Don't mistake the two for the same thing! While perfection will deceive you, steal your joy and be unachievable, excellence will:
- Push you to be the best possible you, not anyone else
- Help you set goals and grow
- Let you be free to create fearlessly
- Challenge you to constantly improve and learn
Friends, I hope you can see that perfection isn't a good friend to have in your life, and that you'll be encouraged to replace it with excellence instead! So what are your thoughts on perfection? Has anyone else struggled with fear masked as perfectionism? Feel free to leave a comment below!