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Have you ever let go of a brilliant idea just because you wanted to strive for perfection?
Are you the type of person who goes way too hard on yourself to meet expectations?
Do you desire to achieve that perfect layout goal and even seek validation from family and peers by doing things coherently?
Original author – Amaka Nweke (Writer and Freelancer).
Most people see striving for perfection as a strength; perfectionists measure self-worth by their level of productivity and accomplishment. They, therefore, engage in a series of rigorous practices to ensure that there are no flaws. Perfectionism motivates people to reach their goals and strive for excellence.
However, with these impeccable qualities, there have been growing concerns towards the practice.
While some experts have argued that there are healthy perfectionists, in contrast, other experts have refuted the claim with an explanation of how striving for perfection is far from being healthy.
Why are there several contrasting conceptions about something with a ‘perfect’ in it? I mean, shouldn’t it be an excellent personality trait if one strives for perfection?
What then does it mean to strive for perfection?
Are there really types of perfectionism?
How can you deal with the desire to strive to be perfect?
What does it mean to strive for perfection?
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by external self-evaluations and concerns regarding others.
To strive for perfection is to set high standards for oneself and then to strive to meet those standards.
The pursuit of perfection is a commendable trait. It shows that you are not content with mediocrity and that you are willing to put in the extra effort to be the best that you can be. Strive for perfection and you will probably achieve a level of success and satisfaction that you never thought possible.
Of course, the quest for perfection can also be a dangerous one. It can lead to obsessive behavior and an unhealthy focus on achieving an impossible goal.
It is important to strike a balance between striving for perfection and being content with what you have accomplished.
In the end, it is up to each individual to decide what striving for perfection means to them. For some, it may simply be about always giving their best effort. For others, it may be about setting impossibly high standards and then doing whatever it takes to reach them.
Whatever your definition of perfection may be, try as much as possible to set achievable goals and appreciate even your flaws.
Types of Perfectionism
Although some experts are of the opinion that no perfectionism is healthy. We can’t rule out the fact that there are healthy perfectionists who simply set standards within their reach. They strive for perfection without jeopardizing their self-esteem.
- Strive for excellence: People in this range strive to be perfect without jeopardizing their worth. Healthy perfectionists are always pace setters and can inspire others in their quest to be better.
- Have high self-esteem: Healthy perfectionism means being aware that, as humans, we have flaws. They know that failure is an event, not a person, and you don’t go hard on yourself for failing.
- Know they can’t do it all: A healthy perfectionist knows they can’t do everything alone. That is why they delegate work to people to achieve high productivity.
- Appreciate themselves (focus on the positive): They do not suck up in failure. They choose to ward off negative feelings and focus on the positive aspect of things.
As the popular saying goes; too much of everything is bad. Striving for perfection can be damaging when one no longer has control over events. Most perfectionists mask their fears under the pretense of aiming for excellence. They desire that approval, favorable comments, perfect look, or even the perfect body.
Extreme perfectionism is unhealthy and can lead to a lot of damages. People have abandoned great works, ideas, and projects just for the fear of criticism. Perfectionism can be crippling and often leads to disorders like:
- Low self-esteem
Things that make people take striving for perfection to the extreme
There are several causes of extreme perfectionism. With people trying to meet up to expectations, many try to be the ideal ship for everyone. Some causes include:
This is one key factor in perfectionism. Many people who strive to be perfect find themselves secluded and withdrawn. They are constantly thinking about what people would say.
Will I ever do it correctly?
Can I deliver that PowerPoint presentation?
Several negative answers ruminate in the mind – answers such as ‘No I may make mistakes in my speech’, ‘I still need to touch things a little or let’s wait for the right time.’ All these excuses just to hide that fear of how things would go.
Pressure from family and peers
The responsibilities of being a role model can be overwhelming. The pressure to succeed often leads to feelings of self-doubt and further increases the expectations one has for themselves in order to avoid disappointing those around them.
Striving for perfection can stem from low self-esteem. People who are hard on themselves based on their physical appearance, people’s opinions, and seek approval to boost themselves. They always feel they are never good enough. Even after achieving success, they strive for more. Mistakes to them make them worthless.
How to Manage extreme perfectionism
Seek medical help
As a perfectionist, you can tell where you belong in the category. Seek medical help from a professional health practitioner.
End all unrealistic goals
One sign of an unhealthy perfectionist is the setting of unrealistically high goals. Goals are meant to push you to do better, but going extreme in everything is dangerous. Dedicate ample time to reach your goal but never endanger your health or reasoning just for a mistake made.
Don’t strive for perfection, embrace failure when it comes and learn from your mistakes – they clear a better path for you as you strive for success.
Focus on the positive aspect
Failure is inevitable. Humans have flaws and the moment we understand that we have imperfections, the better. Things might not go the way we envisioned, but that doesn’t rule out the fact that we worked hard for it.
We could reminisce about the effort and time put into the project. Sometimes, don’t strive for perfection, go with the flow and everything will be okay.
Build your self-esteem
Do things that make you happy. Relax your mind and stay away from negative vibes. There are so many positive things about us that people wish for. Instead of dwelling on what others think, do that which you fear most. Fear of criticism and failure cripples your potential, making you feel incompetent.
How to strike Balance as a perfectionist – healthy ways to strive for perfection
Perfectionism can be a great motivator. It can push us to do our best and strive for excellence. However, it can also be a major source of stress and anxiety. When we are constantly trying to reach an unattainable goal, it can lead to disappointment and frustration.
So how can we strike a balance? How can we be perfectionists without letting it take over our lives?
Healthy perfectionism is about being focused, organized, self-disciplined without compromising self-worth. The following tips can help you strive for perfection healthily:
This may seem like an obvious first step, but it is crucial. After all, you can never hope to achieve perfection if you do not first accept yourself as a flawed and imperfect human being.
Once you can do this, it will be much easier to work on the areas of your life that you would like to improve.
Get clear about what you want to achieve
What are your goals and aspirations?
What standards are you aiming for?
Trying to be perfect in everything you do is likely to lead to frustration and burnout, so it is important to be clear about your priorities.
Avoid unrealistic goals
It is important to set goals that are achievable and realistic, rather than setting your sights too high and then feeling disappointed when you don’t meet your own expectations.
Remember that nobody is perfect, and that striving for excellence rather than perfection is a more healthy and achievable goal.
If you are striving for perfection, it is important to prioritize tasks. Setting priorities helps you to understand what tasks to tackle first. Prioritizing tasks also helps you stay focused on the most important tasks.
For example, if you have a project with multiple components that you need to complete, prioritize the tasks based on their importance. That way, you can make sure you complete the most essential tasks first, and focus on the smaller details after.
Take small steps
Trying to accomplish too much all at once is likely to lead to stress and overwhelm you, so it is important to take things one step at a time. Break down your goals into small, manageable tasks and focus on taking one step at a time towards your goal.
Making minor changes consistently is often more effective (and sustainable) than trying to make enormous changes all at once.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
As the adage goes, “practice makes perfect,” and this is true in many aspects of life. While striving for perfection is an admirable goal, it is important to remember that mistakes are an inevitable part of the process.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they can be great learning experiences and even help to foster creativity. As long as you accept your mistakes, learn from them, and work hard to improve, you will reach your goals.
Don’t have an all-or-nothing mindset
Striving for perfection can be a great way to motivate yourself and push your goals further, but it is important to remember that perfection is not always achievable.
It is important to have an open and flexible mindset when striving for perfection and to not have an all-or-nothing attitude. Doing this can help you be more successful and reach your goals in a healthier and more productive way.
Focus on progress, not perfection
Rather than striving for perfection, which can often be an impossible goal to achieve, it is important to focus on progress. Making incremental improvements each day can lead to significant long-term differences in any pursuit.
By focusing on progress, you can remain motivated and inspired to continue working hard. It is also important to recognize and celebrate the successes that come from this approach. Focusing on progress over perfection is a mindset that will help in any endeavor.
Take some time for self-care
It is important to remember that striving for perfection comes with a cost. It is essential to take time for self-care in order to maintain balance in one’s life.
Self-care can come in many forms – from engaging in physical activities, to taking time for relaxation or reflection, to talking to a therapist or counselor.
Taking the time to focus on your wellbeing can help you stay focused on your goals without becoming overwhelmed by the pressure of perfection.
Prioritize your mental health
It is important to remember that striving for perfection is not a healthy mindset. Taking time out for yourself, reflecting on your goals and successes, and engaging in activities you enjoy are all key components of maintaining good mental health.
It’s okay to make mistakes and not reach perfection every time. Self-care is necessary to ensure that you stay on the right track and feel your best.
Reevaluate your progress
One of the most important steps in striving for perfection is to reevaluate your progress regularly. Reflecting on your goals, successes, and failures can help you identify areas where you may need to adjust your approach.
Maybe you need to shift your focus from one task to another, or take on a more challenging goal. Having a clear idea of where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to go will help you change to reach your maximum potential.
Celebrate all your achievements
We often strive for perfection in all that we do, but it’s important to celebrate the successes we have, no matter how small.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to take a step back and recognize when we have achieved something great.
Instead of focusing on what has yet to be achieved, take time to recognize and appreciate your successes, no matter how small they may be.
Engage in positive self-talk
Positive self-talk is essential for striving for perfection. This means talking to yourself in an encouraging manner, rather than focusing on your failures. By doing this, you can stay motivated and build self-confidence.
Positive self-talks can help you stay focused on your goals and work towards achieving them, regardless of the obstacles that may come your way. Fostering a supportive inner dialogue is a great way to improve your overall mental health and work towards excellence.
Perfectionism can be of great help if you know when to draw the line. It is important to differentiate healthy striving from neurotic struggles.
What are your thoughts towards perfectionism?