A lot of people I meet are looking for perfection both in relationships and in their work. They are known by society simply as “perfectionists”. When it comes to their personal lives, if someone isn’t perfect by their standards, they fade them out or they try to change who they really are to fit their standards. When it comes to their work, they will edit and re-edit their writing so many times until they believe it’s flawless. Growing up in a suburb of Boston, perfectionists received better grades on their papers and tests, and receiving constant praise by my teachers. Parents pushed their children to get straight A’s, a grade that was attainable but put an enormous amount of pressure of them. These days parents attain social status by not only the grades they get in school but what college they get accepted too. If parents want to be accepted in certain social circles, especially in Manhattan, their children better have high status as well.
The other aspect of perfectionism is the image that the media projects. The media has defined “perfection” as being skinny, beautiful, intelligent and famous. Since we are all exposed to these images in magazines and on TV, we buy into that image as being something we all want to live up to. It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing this image because it’s painted everywhere you look, whether you like it or not.
The problem with being a perfectionist is that you become less happy, you waste time and you don’t have your priorities straight. Some perfectionists will become depressed and others will go as far as to commit suicide for not “living up to society’s standards”. It’s a frightening thought, that someone who could be smart and beautiful who goes to a tier two college, would kill themselves because they didn’t think they were good enough to live. Before, we walk through all the drawbacks of being a perfectionist, take this personality test to learn if you are one.
Perfection will make you unhappy. If you seek perfection, you will never be happy with what you have so you will keep seeking someone better, or keep revising your work until it’s better, without an end. I used to have this mindset when I was younger and I winded up single because I was always looking for flaws in other people without examining the flaws in myself.
Perfect prevents you from getting things done. Simply put, perfection doesn’t work in the fast-paced always-on world that we currently live in. If you move slowly at work, you will be replaced by another worker who is willing to work smarter and faster. Perfectionists will take hours to send one email and end up working longer hours to accomplish the same thing as a non-perfectionist. You can’t even afford to be a perfectionist today because you’ll lag behind your competition.
Perfection makes you less likely to take risks. If you want to be an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur, you’ll have a lot of trouble if you’re a perfectionist. You won’t be able to take risks if you’re looking for certain outcomes that aren’t achievable. While entrepreneurs seek to lower perceived risk, they are still willing to “go for it” despite the odds.
Perfection skews your priorities away from what’s really important. The most important aspect of life is the relationship you have with yourself and the people you surround yourself with. Everything other than that doesn’t matter, including fancy cars, homes, as well as where you went to school or where you work. When you’re a perfectionist, you’re so focused on one aspect of your life that you avoid the other, typically more important ones.
Perfection makes you a slave to success. It keeps you focused on failure instead of success milestones. I was very proud of myself for getting my first book published, but I immediately wanted to write a second one, which was a big mistake and led to three years of pursuing it, while disregarding other opportunities. I hardly ever edit my writing anymore because it slows me down and makes me unable to publish my work.
I will leave you with two final thoughts: You can’t look for perfection in others, when you aren’t perfect yourself. You’ll never attain perfection because everyones idea of perfection is different.