Are you a perfectionist? Many people are. If you are one of them, it’s time to abandon your perfectionist nature now. While a goal of excellence, superior work, and outstanding work can all be achieved, perfectionism cannot. In fact, perfectionism, the striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high standards, is too often a burden that results in excessive stress.
Perfection is a goal that humans should not strive to achieve because it can prompt a crippling condition or an overly critical self-evaluation. Being a perfectionist prompts reluctance to admit mistakes and can be a major cause of creating stress.
Remember that failing is a natural outcome of trying, and it is a great teacher. That is, it can be if the choice is to learn from failure, rather than be crushed by it. The emphasis should always be on the effort, on trying. This positive mindset breeds a willingness to experiment, to try, to risk. This is extremely important since improvement comes only with practice.
Think of it this way: When an infant first attempts to walk, we offer encouragement because we know that learning comes by degrees. We do not expect the child to stand up and walk in one day. Similarly, we encourage an infant to speak, even though the sounds are only approximately right. “Exactly right” is made up of a whole series of “approximately rights.” Suppose you want an infant to say, “I want a glass of water.” If you were to wait until the child articulates that request with a flawless, complete sentence, you would have a seriously dehydrated child.
Being a Perfectionist Can be Detrimental
Striving for perfection, rather than for continual improvement, leaves people reluctant to admit mistakes or apologize when in the wrong. Another manifestation of perfectionism is that people stop participating; they simply give up. Therefore, give up the ideal of being a perfectionist. It can actually cause more harm than good.
Experiences should be viewed as a process for receiving information. “Implement now; refine later!” should be the guiding principle. Having a mindset to “extend yourself”—rather than aiming at being perfect—frees you to reap satisfaction from your efforts. This mindset can become a significant characteristic for reducing stress when undergoing new experiences in life.
My new book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey, is now available as a Kindle book. This book will show how to use some simple strategies to significantly reduce your stress, promote responsibility, increase your effectiveness, improve your relationships, and truly enjoy life’s experiences.