You never binge eat or cheat on your diet. You never act silly just to have fun. Nobody has ever seen you without blow dried hair. You often stay quiet, even when you have a lot to say for fear of saying the wrong thing. You have never ever participated in any competition in your life, you often justify that as not being sporty enough, not being quick enough, when the reality is, you are terrified, terrified of failing and terrified of falling short.
If you identify, with any of the above let me tell you are not alone. Many people and I would rate myself right up there, suffer from these paralyzing fears. Behind all these fears, is just one big fear and that is ‘fear of failure’.
We are so scared that we never try new things, we never move out of our comfort zones and we end up stagnating. Every day, on the T.V and may be from among your friends you hear success stories. And all you have is an envious look in your eyes, perhaps mixed with admiration. You accept that they have done well in life, you overlook their journey that got them there, you don’t question yourself, how they achieved all that and you have not. As deep down inside, you know that they tried while you had just become complacent. They were not perfect, because perfection is an illusion. They were just realistic enough to know, that if they worked to target ‘best’, will they end up at ‘good enough’.
While you just got convinced, turning a blind eye to all your talents, that the only place your train will stop is at ‘destination nowhere’. What you failed to realize is, that there is no destination by that name but your train is in fact not moving. If it were, it would have gotten somewhere but it’s engines are jammed because of your fear of failure or your impractical need for perfection. If you suffer from this disease called ‘perfection’, here are some reasons you absolutely need to curb it and actively fight this trap set to, keep you from the success you are destined for. Here is why:
1. Perfection Makes You Lose Focus of the Goal
First of all, you need to clear your concept. “Perfection’, ladies and gentlemen, is a quality, a state of being, an adjective. It can never be a goal or a target. It serves to exaggeratedly define the nature, of a verb or noun. It is not the ‘thing’ or ‘work’ itself. The target or goal is the work you need to submit, that dress you plan to design, the book you dream of writing. If you get fixated on ‘perfection’, you are focusing on the wrong thing. Chances are, time will go by and you will still be struggling to get it ‘just right’, ‘just perfect’. As there is nothing perfect in this world and to the perfectionist eye they never will be. You need to get work done, rather than focusing on its nature. I am certainly not advocating that you should end up putting forward sloppy work. But aim to achieve high quality, which just means put in the best of your abilities. It is important to be ‘real’ than to be ‘perfect’. For we live in a real world not a perfect one.
When you are consumed with thoughts of ‘should have been’ and ‘not enough’s’, you are in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction and discontentment lead to unhappiness. You will dwell on how a certain thing could have been done better and beat yourself up about it. You will never pat yourself on the back, for what you have done or revel in any of your achievements, well because there was still room for improvement. There are no victories, for you it is either defeat or self bashing for not measuring up to unobtainable standards. How about being a little less harsh to yourself and gently telling yourself ‘ok, next time I will make it even better but for now I have done a ‘good enough’ job’.
Besides, if your hair has to be perfect all the time and you always need to look put together, you can never really enjoy life to the fullest. A rollercoaster ride, might mess up your hair, playing funny games might make you look foolish, acting a little crazy around friends might tarnish your mask of perfection. So you deprive yourself. You deprive yourself of every joy that you possibly can. All I can say is, ‘live and don’t just exist, sitting there like the perfect piece of decoration, unless you eventually want to be diagnosed with clinical depression’.
3. Perfectionism Will Never Let You Become A Leader
Perfectionists do not expect high standards from themselves alone they expect it from everybody around them as well. This makes it difficult to put up with them. They will not trust another person easily or delegate the minutest of tasks, because they feel others will fall short too and to keep from blaming an additional person, they would rather just do it themselves, so they have only themselves to blame.
Let me be honest here, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur (especially) than perhaps you should kiss your dreams goodbye, if you can’t let go of this control freakish habit. A successful entrepreneur from the go get knows that it is not possible for them to do everything, so they hire competent people for the relevant tasks. Whereas, a controlling perfectionist can never find the ‘perfect’ person to do the required job ‘perfectly’!
4. It Can Be Exhausting
The demands of perfection are never ending and completely draining. When you keep pushing yourself to do better and better, yet still remain unsatisfied, it can rob you of all your physical and emotional energy. When you never boost yourself up and become your own worst critic, you are setting yourself up to feel continuously low. The negative self talk, that you might think will make you do better next time, let me break it to you, it won’t. It will just de-motivate you, make you lose yourself confidence, falsely ingrain in your mind that nothing you do is ever right because it is not ‘perfect’. It is either ‘perfection’ or ‘failure’. There are no in-betweens, balanced equations, only strict rules which keep you from ever relaxing. And self-inflicted demons that, gradually start taking a toll on you.
5. You Will Never Actually Get Around to Doing Anything
The unrealistic standards of perfectionism make it impossible for you to commence anything and when you do begin, bringing it to completion becomes a Neanderthal task. You realize that it’s going to take forever, so you distract yourself to relieve anxiety, busying yourself in less important chores. This just leads to procrastination and you end up delaying the work that needs to be done, to a point that it never really gets done. Rather, the anxiety which you wanted to avert, by occupying yourself in menial jobs, only gets elevated when you look around and see others, getting ahead. I would like to mention an instance here, which I am sure a lot of you can relate to. When I was doing my Fashion Design course, the girl next to me kept erasing the designs she was making, which to the rest of us, seemed pretty good. We thought she was just being crazy. Then she would go around the room look, at everyone else’s designs then go back start again, then erase. Took unnecessary breaks; to smoke, to eat, to get money from the cash machine, all of which, could have waited. Lord knows how many sheets she wasted, erasing them till they tore and of course as you may have guessed, she could not meet the deadline. The rest of us had 10 designs, as required whilst she just came up with 5.
When you are too wrapped up in the nitty-gritty, you totally miss the bigger picture. You never set out on the journey to reach your dreams, if you do, you tend to leave it mid way, half complete. Practicality is the key to attaining your higher goals, idealism just makes them un-doable. Realism is the way of the world, whilst Idealism is only good in philosophical books.