Perfection is Overrated

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
― Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina

Hello, my name is Cass and I’m a perfectionist.  Or rather, a recovering perfectionist.

Are you, like me, one those people who, when asked in a job interview what your biggest weakness is, resort to your old faithful friend: perfection? “Oh I would have to say, being a perfectionist. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop/quit/let a good thing lie.”  You know who you are.

The thing is, that was the old me. I have learnt in recent years, that perfection is overrated.  Sometimes you need to settle for 95%…maybe even 90% (sorry, I struggle to go any lower than that – I’m only in recovery after all).  And that’s perfectly OK.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to set high standards, push yourself and achieve the very best you can.  However, sometimes we’re at risk of crossing the line into the realms of unhealthiness.  Like the quest for the perfect body, the perfect partner or even the perfect kids.  In the quest for perfection, sacrifices inevitably need to be made – be it your health, well-being or happiness, or those of the people around you.

A big part of this is learning acceptance.  I think the serenity prayer below sums it up quite well.

Serenity Prayer

Striving for perfection is also actually quite time-consuming. Letting go of it frees you up to enjoy the ride and take pleasure in the small, imperfect quirks of life along the way. I truly believe it also lets you have better and more fulfilling relationships with the people around you – not only do you accept them for who they are, with all their flaws and imperfect human qualities, you also give yourself the same allowance. Because let’s face it, us perfectionists could be a lot kinder to ourselves.

It’s no wonder that aiming for perfection is number one on the Positivity Blog’s list of 7 Common Habits of Unhappy People:

  1. Aiming for perfection.
  2. Living in a sea of negative voices.
  3. Getting stuck in the past and future too much.
  4. Comparing yourself and your life to others and their lives.
  5. Focusing on the negative details in life.
  6. Limiting life because you believe the world revolves around you.
  7. Overcomplicating life.

So there you have it, I’m now officially an imperfectionist.  It’s much more fun.

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