Every human, in every situation, must face duality. The good and the evil, the dark and light of human emotion influences the way that we perceive and process the world. Organizers are known for being perfectionists. Here at M2O, we have always joked about “making money out of our madness”. The expression alludes to the fact that our OCD eye for detail (paired with a need for order) makes us good at what we do. This blessing, however, comes with its own curse: perfectionism.
Sometimes in our quest to better ourselves, we fall into this trap of perfectionism and become a control freak version of ourselves. As most of my friends would say, I am a perfectionist to a fault. Even our Co-founder, Schae, made a joke about picking Perfectionism as our topic for my birthday month! Coincidence? I think not! So I ,as a well-known perfectionist, confess that by no means does this quest for perfection make me or anything in my life perfect or more enjoyable but somehow less productive and more of a struggle.
So what I have learned (and try to remind myself of daily) is that there is no value in being a perfectionist. I might think that by moving closer to perfection every day I will achieve this ultimate state of flawlessness but such a state doesn’t even exist. There is always more to do when you’re trying to reach perfection. Making your way through this never-ending maze to reach absolute perfection can be the biggest hurdle of any process and, therefore, stifles progress. Here are a few ways that perfectionism gets in the way of our lives and makes us unhappy.
As we mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as an absolute state of perfection. Like everything else in life, it is a relative state of comparison. By not finishing projects and continuing to drag them towards this imaginary holy grail, no project gets finished. Therefore we get fewer results compared to the amount of time we put into a project.
In everyday life and our professional lives, the best thing we can do to improve ourselves and our work is to do better than we did yesterday. We are more likely to achieve results and enjoy ourselves while doing so by focusing on self improvement rather than perfection. Self improvement is possible but perfection is just an illusion.
While in search of this El Dorado of perfection, we are also disallowing ourselves to let go of the past. If we don’t let go of our mistakes, we won’t move on from unfruitful situations. We will never really finish anything or allow ourselves to enjoy the sweetness of achievement if we are constantly thinking about we could have done to make it more perfect.
Keeping our focus on finishing a task flawlessly can really be overwhelming. The fear of not being able to reach that perfect level can make us scared and overwhelmed. Many of us become so fearful of not being perfect that we fail to begin projects and dread completing or presenting our work.
Perfectionists believe that nobody can do things better than us. The idea is that there is only one way to achieve a goal: our way. With this mentality, we appear to be stubborn and afraid of change. It’s our way or the highway! This spirit is a detriment to our success because it does not facilitate collaboration and growth. The road to true growth is full of twists and imperfect turns.
Lack of Appreciation
No creature or situation is ever perfect. As a matter of fact, nature is full of imperfection yet it is so beautifully enchanting and functional. If we are on a quest to produce unblemished results and find the perfect human to connect with, we will hurt ourselves and our loved ones. Besides that, we would never enjoy, trust or appreciate anything that is not touched by the magic dust of perfection. In this realm, that translates to not appreciating or rewarding ourselves, anyone or anything.
The Masterpiece Syndrome
Perfectionism is really just crippling fear camouflaged as a sought after character trait. It’s easier to face that fear when we dress it up as perfectionism. Oddly we don’t treat perfectionism in the same way because it fools us into thinking that it is a virtue, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The fear that we can never be good enough or that anything less than a masterpiece is unacceptable will leave us stuck in a rut forever. Just imagine if every great author, inventor and artist would stop creating for fear of not being perfect. Just how much knowledge and beauty would be robbed of this world?
At any particular moment in life, we have endless options available to us. None of these options will be perfect or come with a guaranteed outcome. Every decision we make alters our lives. Being a perfectionist can very easily effect our decision making ability and, therefore, the agony over making decisions will freeze us from taking advantage of opportunities. After all, we are sure to miss every shot we don’t take.
As I learn to let go of this unattainable idea of perfection, I realize that this list of ways that perfection stifles my progress is endless. So the next time you catch yourself striving for flawlessness, remind yourself that self improvement is much more rewarding for you and the world around you. Perfectionism may be getting in the way of your progress.
Search for your happiness and your own approval by asking yourself these easy questions. Did I do better today than yesterday? Am I a better person today than I was yesterday? Have I learned something new today? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, know that you are doing the right thing and that you’re already better than perfect.
Perfect (if it even exists) creates immobility and traps us to the point where we can’t move, change or grow. Life should not be about a final and stagnant destination but about the journey to be traveled. Even if some roads are dusty or we find dead ends, it’s much better to travel than to freeze in fear and never give it a try.