December 05, 2013

The flaws of perfectionism

For years, I was a perfectionist. Like, a hardcore perfectionist who not only wanted everything in my life to be perfect, but also expected perfection from others around me as well. Perfectionism consumed me. And it wasn't until college that I realized…trying to be perfect is…dumb.

I was afraid of making mistakes, worried that I would be judged my friends and by those who didn't know me. And the worry and anxiety started inhibiting me from dreaming as big as I wanted to dream. 

And then one day, I decided to aim for my dreams instead of aim for avoiding failure.

Once I figured out that real learning and real growth only comes from failing and being reminded that I am human, I started embracing mistakes.

In every job I've had, I've made a mistake. And that mistake served as my motivation and teacher throughout my time at the job. Mistakes, similar to challenges, add variety and character to life's situations.

I shared in my last post how I transformed from Type A to Type A-ish…and I'm so glad I did. I still know how to be super organized, efficient, and exact. But I don't let perfection overwhelm my work life or social life. I welcome mistakes and the growth that comes packaged with those mistakes. And I do my best not to make the same mistake again. 

And I definitely don't aim for perfectionism in my social life. I also welcome other people who have made mistakes and will make mistakes because I learn more from those people than I ever will from a person who has never slipped and learned how to stand again.

When I make a mistake - whether it's at work, in a business deal, in school, in a relationship - I internalize and externalize the mistake by processing what I did wrong in my mind and apologizing for my wrongdoing aloud. And then I think about how I could have prevented the mistake or better reacted to the mistake. After that, I let it go.

Holding onto mistakes and letting them weigh you down can be just as dangerous as aiming for perfection. It's simpler than a balancing act, and more like a video game where you have to go through one level to get to the next, more challenging one. Each chapter of life is like a new level in the game and making a mistake in Level 2 may be preparation for passing Level 4. Aiming for perfection in Level 2 may keep you stuck on Level 2 forever…and you don't want that.

Aiming for perfection is not the way to live. And no longer a way that I try to live.

So my advice to all of the ambitious people out there? Be willing and excited about making mistakes. Mistakes are the precursors to success.

Perfectionism itself is flawed and can be an ambitious person's worst enemy, disguised as a goal quality.

5 reasons why aiming for perfection is unhealthy

1. Aiming for perfection means aiming for standards set by someone else that shouldn't apply to your life.

2. When aiming for perfection, you often overlook the overall positive accomplishments, and instead feel defeated.

3. People who aim for perfection are more stressed out and have higher blood pressures.

4. Fearing failure ruins your chances of learning.

5. You won't work well with others who don't aim for perfection and you therefore eliminate opportunities for great collaborations.

Have you ever tried to be perfect at something and felt overwhelmed?


  1. Reading your article I have realised that I need to stop expecting perfection from others and from myself too

  2. I can so relate to everything you just stated in this post. I used to be an extreme perfectionist too. Life is so much richer when you start to embrace your mistakes and learn from them; life is also a lot more fun once you stop caring so much about what other people think of you.


  3. Ambition is great, perfection is a myth :) Great post girl ;)

  4. Lovely post

  5. Type A-ish. I love it. Totally agree. You touched on a really good point- ppl who expect a lot of themselves, expect a lot from others, and are often disappointed. Learned that the hard way. Good job!

  6. What a great post.I love this and find it motivational even though I'm so far away from perfectionism.I'm more of a lazy type :P
    Style Of OzOz
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  7. This is such an inspirational post Vett! You are a great motivation for the rest of us!

  8. Theres nothing perfect on the nature so thats it :D

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  9. I don't aim for perfection, too much stress

  10. Thank you for sharing your heart on perfectionism!! I absolutely let it consume me at times, I needed this sweet reminder that mistakes are ok!! :)

  11. Perfectionism is incredibly overwhelming, so much so that I've never aimed for it lol or at least, not intentionally. The more I read of your post, the more I realized that by trying my hardest to not make mistakes at work may be why I inevitably did, I was placing a lot of stress on myself to not be human and in a way that's being a perfectionist. I'm happy I read this post, because it was perfect timing. I'm doing as you've said, I internalized/externalized, went over what went wrong, what I could've done to avoid it, and now, I've let go. Amen to that.

    The Indie Byline


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