Do you find that perfectionism holds you back from being successful in life? You get that done is better than perfect. But despite your desire to do the very best work on anything you complete, trying to make it perfect actually ends up backfiring majority of the time.
Best case scenario, you turn in a completed project feeling anxious about all of the mistakes you’ve made or obsess over the possible adjustments that would improve it. Worst case scenario, you’re buried in a mess of self-esteem and procrastination.
I justify it because it promotes meticulousness, dedication, and hard work. Despite this masterful cloak, perfectionism is a problem that prevents so many creative and intelligent people from showing their true capabilities, whether that be at school or at the office. The cloak of meticulous productivity prevents us from seeing the true benefits of getting work completed without worrying about all the worst-case scenarios.
Ultimately, if you want to succeed in life, you have to recognize that done is better than perfect. Thankfully, some simple mindset shifts can play a huge role in helping you justify why you shouldn’t obsess over perfection.
I have chosen today only one aspect of psychological importance to present to you for your thought and consideration; the subject of “The Courage to be Imperfect.” In this one subject and topic it seems that a number of basic problems facing us come to the fore. In this subject and topic we deal with our culture; we deal with the need for a reorientation in a changing culture; we deal with the basic problems of education; and, finally, we have here an area where we may even learn eventually to deal more effectively with ourselves. We can well see that perfectionism is rampant today. A great many people try so hard to do right and to be right. Only a few psychiatrists are perhaps catching on to the implications of such a desire which has highly depreciated our fellow men, our society. So it may perhaps be presumptuous to ask what right do we have to interfere with the peoples’ desire to be right and to do right and to become perfect. In a certain way we may even consider the term and the notion of God as the ideal of perfection. The question of justice is intrinsically linked to the demand to have the right – the right distinguished from wrong – punishing for the wrong and perhaps praising the right. Moral standards are impossible without a clear distinction between right and wrong, and stimulating efforts toward the right.
Let us perhaps first state the one thing; right and wrong are judgments. In many cases they are valueless judgments. The right and wrong can be clearly defined only when we have absolutes – only in an absolutistic way can we say “that is right” and “this is wrong.” And there are many people who out of the tradition of our culture are still looking for this absolute. Truth is an absolute; something is either wrong or right, true or false. That is how we think. And perhaps that is the way we have to act. What we don’t realize so often is that all these absolutes are gone in a civilization which has become democratic. Absolutes are only possible if we have an authority which decides what is right and wrong. As far as we are concerned in our private lives we have become such an authority because each one of us determines for himself what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what is false. But when it comes to a generalized statement, then we run into troubles. What is right for the one may be wrong for the other one. What is good for one, what is beautiful for one, may be not so for another one. And as we are losing the authoritarian order in our society we lose more and more the authorities which establish absolute judgments. The entire world were even science has to make this adjustment – mechanistic science in the 17th and 18th centuries was still under the impression that one can easily distinguish between true and false; the truth must be found, despite of the warning of philosophers like Kant that the real thing can’t be seen, that everything is approximation.
Stage fright exists because people worry they are going to make mistakes in front of other people. There is this fear that if you aren’t 100% perfect in your execution, you’re going to freeze on stage for everybody to see. Thus, people with stage fright avoid performing in front of others. Perfectionism is a lot like stage fright. People get so worked up on how others may perceive their work that they aren’t able to complete it. For some people, this looks like procrastination. They wait until they are confident to work on the project the best way possible. For others, this means they are unable to turn in their work due to anxiety. Not to mention, people with perfectionistic traits have a tendency toward low self-esteem and defensiveness. Neither of these traits necessarily make you want to work hard or put yourself in front of other people.
A handful of people may catch your ‘your’ to ‘you’re’ error. But in all honesty, if it’s readable, most people aren’t going to care about the mistakes. If you are a strong enough writer to get your point through your words, that is all that matters. And the people who are jerks about your errors aren’t the type of people you want in your life. Somebody who truly cares will help you and point it out tactfully. Don’t get embarrassed! Instead, thank them for their willingness to help make your work the best you can.
Nothing is permanent. You can always fix things you don’t like later on. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a mistake you make in a paper, or a mistake on your last blog post. Virtual and literal “white out” options exist to correct problems later. If you go back later through your work and notice grammatical errors, wrong words, misspelled words, most of the time you can correct it. Even if you feel like your point is weak, it’s better to have it out there and shared rather than a strong point living in edit mode. You can always go back and strengthen your point as you gather more knowledge.
The crucial question is the problem of mistakes – making mistakes.
People who believe that done is better than perfect realize that perfection is actually subjective. Each person has their own tastes, style, opinions, and desires. We also all have flaws. Everything on our planet has some type of flaw, whether it’s natural or man-made. Nothing lasts forever.
Beyond that, you will never measure up to pleasing everybody on this planet. Your best, most valuable work may be revered by many, but you’ll always find some who will be quick to disagree or find fault in your efforts.
Or would you rather work your hardest to achieve your goals and dreams, even if that means mistakes and failure happen? Some of the best lessons in life come from hurt, pain, and heartache.