How often has that actually helped you? More than likely, it hasn’t helped in a way you’d like. Being a perfectionist usually means taking much longer on things than you normally do, out of a desire to get everything just right.
Let’s state the obvious here – not much, if anything, is perfect in life. And “perfect” is subjective.
I’ve read so many quips from other bloggers who have said that posts they’ve spent hours on didn’t receive half the attention that posts they spent maybe an hour or two on did.
Ironic? Sure. It also goes to show you that sometimes, the effort you put into things doesn’t guarantee the end product will turn out the way you want it to. That sometimes, perfectionism isn’t worth it. Getting caught up in the details takes our focus away from the bigger picture.
Perfectionistic tendencies can be a hindrance
From the ever wise Wikipedia:
In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal, and their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals. In the end, they derive pleasure from doing so. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression.
I’ll give you a few of my own examples.
I doubt many of you noticed, but I stopped posting my monthly goals. Exactly as Wikipedia says, when goals aren’t reached, I really feel down about it. It sucks when you don’t accomplish something. However, it’s important to look at the reasons why. Things aren’t always in our control.
It’s even worse when you declare something publicly, and then you feel ashamed when you don’t accomplish half of what you set out to.
Don’t get me wrong – I think goals are still important, but how we go about setting them and accomplishing them is a different story. Everyone has a different method. And if you can’t find the motivation, you need to dig deeper and find out what’s going on.
Maybe your goal wasn’t as important as you originally thought. That has nothing to do with how awesome you are as a person! Don’t lose yourself in your goals.
I’m sure many of you can relate to this one: Whenever I set a budget, I’m always hoping I’ll come under budget in every single area. Seeing all those numbers line up perfectly, without any red marks, would make my month.
Fact is, life happens, and most budgets never turn out perfectly. Does that mean we should completely abandon them? No, but many people feel tempted to give up after their first few tries don’t go well, because it’s discouraging. (Or, hopefully, they find a better alternative!)
The “trick” is to be realistic. You can’t shoot for the stars where budgets are concerned. As I said, life tends to get in the way, and things are bound to crop up. I’ve had maybe two good months so far this year, but we all start over new next month. There’s no reason to completely give up.
Not exactly finance related, but writing blog posts has been driving me crazy lately, which is (sadly) why I haven’t been posting much. Every time I finish a rough draft, I want to scrap it completely. This is crap, I tell myself.
Now I’m sure none of you would be that harsh on me, but I have always tried to achieve perfection when writing, and while I did ace my English classes, I usually got some version of “too detailed” jotted down on my essays. Since, oh, sixth grade. And I was usually the last one to finish any essays we had to write during class.
I agonized about what I should include. Halfway through writing, something else would pop in my head, but for the sake of time, I couldn’t go back and start over. I had to push that little nagging voice out of my head.
And that was honestly probably for the better, but it would really help to do that all the time.
Or even job applications. Have any of you came out of an interview thinking about what you should have / could have said that would have been better than what was said?
I know I have. Even on job applications – once they’re submitted, it’s like some magical fairy tells me what I left out; what I should have put in my cover letter. Then I sit there frustrated, knowing my only chance is gone.
This is bound to happen with a lot of things (even writing, after something is published). But guess what? Unless someone has a secret time traveling machine that they’re keeping all to themselves, we can’t go back and change things. It’s best to learn to let it go. Whatever happens will happen regardless of you trying your best
to build your own time machine to rewind and change things.
And the best part is, life is full of opportunities. The sooner you let something go, the quicker you can move on to what’s next.
So in the case of your goals – reevaluate your priorities. Is your budget a bust? Look forward to next month! Struggling to write a blog post? Let that one sit as a draft, and come back to it later. Bombed an interview (who hasn’t)? Keep looking for another job, and learn from the experience.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
At the end of the day, there’s only so much we can accomplish. We need to stop beating ourselves up over the little things. I know I have a tendency to do that. But what good does that really do? You already know you made a mistake. Kicking yourself for it only serves to kill your spirits.
What we can do is our best. Give everything your best shot, and move on if it doesn’t work out. Most things in life aren’t going to break us unless we let them. Remember that you can choose to be upset, or you can choose to rise above it and not take things so seriously.
I’m not saying you should simply “settle,” but if there are certain projects or goals that are getting the best of you, is it really worth the stress? The point is, we could all be easier on ourselves. We should focus on our accomplishments, even the small ones, and take stock of how far we’ve come.
Have you ever let perfect be the enemy of good?1