I’ve been discussing the theory of perfectionism with a number of friends lately and have been pondering deeply on the subject. Although the idea of being known as a perfectionist is seen as a positive trait, I’ve come to the realisation that it can seriously hold us back in life. Why? Allow me to explain in my less than perfect blog post below:
- Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
Why we value perfection
Our culture is built upon perfection, we praise and flaunt the idea to anyone and everyone who lives in modern society that has access to a computer, radio or television. Our Facebook walls and Instagram feeds are full of #lifegoals and #inspo to advise it’s “cool” to be “perfect”.
A lot of people feel that searching for perfection motivates and develops us in ways that wouldn’t if we didn’t care about being the best. In my humble opinion, this belief is limiting your life.
Why perfectionism can limit progress
Because each time we attempt anything new in life the little (or big) perfectionist inside us is subconsciously comparing ourselves to others. We are instantly viewing a contrast between ourselves and people who are “perfect” which makes us feel less than. We beat ourselves up before we even get a chance to enjoy this new thing and within a week or two, giving up looks like an easier option.
How many times have you thought about starting a new hobby, about creating something, perusing a career or following your dreams only to stop and think I’m not perfect at it, I’m not even that good. Why bother?
How to positively motivate yourself
When we have a goal in mind, our key values for that goal need to shift. If your values are to be perfect, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable road to an unattainable destination.
Your values need to ensure that you’re investing your energy into something that brings you joy during the process. I discovered this when I first started doing 31 days of yoga. Ensuring you are enjoying this activity will progress you organically and the best part is, you won’t even notice how quickly this happens.
Shifting your values to personal self-development rather than competing for social acceptance will enrich all areas of your life for the better.
Don’t be afraid to be imperfect
This guy called Albert, you may have heard about started life being pretty shit at things we consider important. He couldn’t talk until the age 4, couldn’t read until the age 7. You could say the guy wasn’t very bright. He also got expelled from school and was rejected by Zurich Polytechnic because he wasn’t their idea of a “perfect student”. His insta posts (had Instagram been around back then) would not have had comments stating #onfleek or #goals. Nonetheless, Einstein did, however, eventually turn out to win a Nobel Peace Prize and turn the idea of Modern Physics on its head. Because his passion came from scientific progress and his values were aligned with this.
My personal values
I have always loved writing and many years back I attempted to start a blog. I was excited but after a while realised there were so many amazingly “perfect” blogs out there. My writing or photography was not as good as other bloggers. Because of this, I didn’t want to produce any content until I was sure it would be perfect. This crippled my motivation and it has taken me around 4 years to give it another crack. This time, I started blogging with a different attitude and set of values. See my earlier post on why I started a blog here.
My values and motivation moving forward is to enjoy and focus on the journey – always. I enjoy writing and the more I practise, the better I’ll get. This year I’ve decided to invest my energy into things I deeply enjoy and that will benefit me. After all, If you’re not enjoying the journey, it might be worth re-evaluating the destination.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of perfection!