On perfectionism

I am a perfectionist. I wonder sometimes why everyone isn’t. I know plenty of other perfectionists because similar personalities tend to find each other and recognise each other.

Recently though, I’ve been wondering whether it wouldn’t be nicer not to be a perfectionist. I’ve been reflecting on something that was said to me earlier this week: “You don’t have to ride in the Olympics; just have fun.” Perfectionism tends to squash the fun out of everything. It insists that you do everything to a level higher than you can actually achieve. Sometimes it helps us achieve things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to, but the achievement isn’t always worth the cost. When perfectionism is setting the goals they may not be achievable, which is setting you up to feel that you’ve failed, even though in someone else’s eyes what you’ve achieved may be wonderful.

But maybe you’ve achieved your perfectionist goal – then what? Not much actually. There are no fireworks, applause or presentations from the Queen. Nothing changes and you’ve still spent all of your energy on an unreasonable goal.

So I think it’s time to try to lower my standards. “Good enough never is” might encourage you to achieve excellence, but maybe sometimes good enough is good enough. Perhaps I’ll make a New Year’s resolution to tone down the perfectionism and save it for times when I can benefit from it rather than applying it to everything I meet.


3 thoughts on “On perfectionism

  1. Liz at Libro says:

    Wonderful end-of-year post! Having grown up with “Good, Better, Best: Never Let it Rest, Till the Good is Better and the Better Best”, I have found that Good Enough is actually far more comfortable! It’s a hard one to learn, and I don’t always keep to it, but I can promise you truthfully, from some way towards the other side, that it’s a darn sight more comfortable and relaxing than striving your little socks off all the time!

    Have fun with those lowered standards!!

  2. Julie Rudd says:

    7/10 is good enough.

  3. A Distant Relative says:

    I couldn’t agree more – Well maybe a little more, but I’m not going to waste that extra bit of effort because I know I’ll never achieve perfection, even in something as straightforward as agreeing.
    Time to let “Good enough never is” and “Good, Better, Best: Never Let it Rest, till the Good is Better and the Better Best” slide into the oblivion they so richly deserve.
    I’ve eventually replaced that and all similar outdated perfectionist propaganda with a mantra that, initially, I found exceedingly hard to accept. My new mantra?
    “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”
    Far more efficient to to get the job done in a reasonable time and decide after a decent amount of effort “Right! That’ll have to do!” than to continue and spend many anxious hours chasing that always elusive perfection.
    Well there’s a great horde of jobs waiting for me to do my worst, so I’ll start to practise what I preach and not even bother to check this for errors and ambiguities.
    I’ll just wish you a belated Perfectly Happy Imperfect New Year (nobody’s perfect) and know you’ll find plenty of happiness to fill the time won back by not chasing perfection.

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