‘Aiming for perfection is not realistic’


Is 100% perfection ever possible?

Not according to Winston Churchill,

“The maxim ‘nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘paralysis.’” (Winston Churchill)

….and I think my course tutor agreed when she wrote on my feedback form:

‘There is obviously more you could do but aiming for perfection is not realistic (although it is expected of lawyers.)’

This was 10 years ago, yet I will never forget her comments.  I have been guilty of perfectionism and have had to learn to lower my high and unrealistic expectations of myself to allow myself a chance to try new things and learn from mistakes I make along the way to improve.

I am, of course, not the only one. Perfectionism is extremely common and continues to trouble individuals as they enter the workplace, as confirmed in a recent article about the rise in perfectionism in young people.  This article sets out the characteristics and beliefs of a perfectionist as:

  • Holding excessive standards and punishing yourself for failing to achieve these standards.
  • Validating your worth by perfection.
  • Experiencing guilt and anxiety about unworthiness.

Does this sound familiar? I am sure those of you who are perfectionists will agree that always believing nothing is ever good enough is an exhausting state of mind.  It can lead to stress, anxiety and poor concentration as well as other mental health issues.

If you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, there are steps you can take to alleviate the pressure you put upon yourself.  Use the following tips to start the process:

  • Failure is not a weakness – start to believe there is a learning process through which you can gain knowledge and succeed.
  • Set yourself high achievable standards and realistic goals that do not require perfection.
  • Get the job done. Do not procrastinate for fear of failure.  Take manageable steps instead, taking each decision at a time.  Enjoy the process, not just the outcome, and this will open new opportunities you didn’t know existed.

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.  Motivation comes from striving to be excellent, not perfect.

“Strive for excellence, not perfection, because we don’t live in a perfect world.” (Joyce Meyer)



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