Do you aim for perfection only to find yourself failing every single time? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. While we might not all label ourselves “perfectionists,” many of us have perfectionist tendencies in one or more areas, like our home, our parenting abilities or our weight.
Let me tell you, aiming for perfection is a losing battle. In this article, we will discuss reasons you shouldn’t aim for perfection and what you can do instead.
5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Aim for Perfection
- You will fall short. If you aim for perfection, you will fall short every time. Why? Because perfection is a moving target. There’s always something to be tweaked, added on or taken away.
- It’s subjective. What you see as being perfect may be far from it in someone else’s mind.
- It takes a lot of time. Pareto’s principle roughly states that 20% of your work will produce 80% of your results. The reverse is true. It takes 80% of your time to produce 20% of your results. In other words, you could spend 5 hours a week having a mostly clean house or 25 hours a week working towards a perfect house.
- We only have one life to live. We have precious time spent on this Earth. Would you rather spend the time taking an old project from 95% completed to 98% or starting a new project and potentially completing it halfway (or more). Some people spend their whole lives working towards perfection and never see the finish line. I’m not saying don’t finish things or see them through. Instead, become an expert at realizing which amount of effort is needed to get the job done and which effort is a waste of your time.
- Most likely, no one else will notice. You may notice that something isn’t just so, but unless you surround yourself with extremely picky people, they most likely will not. Don’t get stuck on the finishing details that no one else will notice.
Focus on progress, not perfection.
So if you’re not going to focus on perfection, what should you do? I have a favorite saying that I repeat to myself often: “Focus on progress, not perfection.” I love this saying because it helps me to focus on the big picture items that will greatly improve my life (like, spending quality time finger painting with my son) and decrease the things that don’t add value (scrubbing the kitchen backsplash while my son finger paints).
Both of these scenarios are true, by the way. I have never once regretted missing out on scrubbing inconsequential spots in my kitchen. But I have gotten to the end of a long day and felt so silly when I think back on the day and realized that I spent less than five minutes of good quality play time with my son.
Perfection is the disapproving parent who scolds you for only cleaning your room 95% of the way. Progress, on the other hand, is the encouraging parent who pats you on the back for making it halfway to your goal and motivates you to continue going. You see the difference? Perfection only sees the negative, but progress can see the positive.
Write “Focus on progress, not perfection” on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you will see it every day. You can get fancy with it if that’s your think. I took a plain old sticky note and slapped it on the side of the kitchen cabinet by the sink.
Remind yourself to focus on your progress, not the ideal of perfection. What were your wins today (even small ones)? What has changed for the better in the last year, 5 years or 10 years? Let me know in the comments below!