Perfection Is A Concept, Not A Reality


When I was in school, I was an overachiever. I would look at the four quotes, six sources, and five pages required by the rubric to get an excellent grade and make sure my paper had six quotes, eight sources, and seven pages. Anything less than a 100% was unacceptable in my house, and if my grades suffered, so did my self-esteem.

In my twenties, I would make decisions that were just good enough. In other words, they were convenient and temporarily solved something. Anything that I was afraid of, didn’t want to confront, or that was straight-up unhealthy, I would cover with a metaphorical bandaid. Avoiding difficulty was my superpower.

These were two different extremes. Neither of them was healthy for me and neither of them made me happy. Good is the enemy of best, and perfection is the enemy of good.

Why does this happen?

When you stick to things that are comfortable simply because they are convenient, you are wasting your time and being dishonest with yourself. You choose things not because they’re hard, but because they’re easy. It might temporarily look and feel okay, but you’re not fixing the real problem. It’s a lie.

When they get loud enough and finally demand change, it’s too late to get back what you’ve lost. All to avoid being accountable, responsibility, conflict, or stress.

Drive, on the other hand, should be a good thing, right? Pushing yourself to do better and better things sounds great. But this can have negative consequences too. Challenging yourself to reach perfection can be intimidating because perfection doesn’t exist. If your goal can’t be reached, then why try at all?

Perfection means that any judgment we’ve made is entirely subjective and therefore imperfect. Between endless reworking in the pursuit of something better, you often never finish it.

We do this because pain and fear are fantastic motivators.

Don’t settle for less than you deserve.

You can probably finish most things without thinking too much about them. However, in order to do something better than average you need to take initiative and be thoughtful. It requires effort in place of doing what’s comfortable. You are tricked into thinking there’s no need to try. Things aren’t that bad, why do more?

So long as you’re competent, that’s good enough. The issue with the path of least resistance is that you are settling for mediocrity. You get what you expect from yourself.

The alternative is to try.

Pursue things that actually make you happy. Remind yourself that you are enough and that you deserve to smile and laugh and feel good. Pursue new things; make attempts. It is better to learn and grow in the pursuit of what you really want.

You may not possess the talent you think you need and it might seem so difficult at first, but what if you were more motivated, more driven, more enthusiastic, more diligent?

“Every day, people settle for less than they deserve. They are only partially living or at best living a partial life. Every human being has the potential for greatness.” —  Bo Bennett

Appreciate satisfaction.

Our society has been taught to seek exhilaration and instant gratification. The correct combination of all the right things will bring you happiness! When your hair looks perfect, when your picture gets a heart, or when you have that moment of understanding where everything suddenly clicks, you are flooded with joy. This mentality skews your expectations, stops you from taking action, and can damage day to day life.

It’s great to want and aim for success. You can want it badly, prepare yourself for it, go for it. Just don’t expect it to erupt like a symphony building to a crescendo. More likely, things will be gradual. It will feel good but not perfect. Don’t wait for euphoria. Embrace small improvements over time and feel proud of your performance over time.

Victory arrives slowly, as a sense of satisfaction, not an abrupt burst of elation.

You are capable of wonderful things! Don’t sell yourself short and learn to let go of the idea of perfection. Otherwise, you’ll make it very difficult to accomplish anything at all.