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Perfect is not Perfect

Do you have an ALL or NOTHING mindset?

Do you set unrealistic standards for yourself and find yourself spending unnecessary time trying to achieve those standards?

Are you afraid of failure and are you inclined to procrastinate?

These are all signs of perfectionism. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and it often leads to failure because the afflicted would rather not do something than do it imperfectly or fail. High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them, and are happy with any steps made in the right direction. Perfectionists, on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure. I will openly admit that I was afflicted with this condition for most of my life and it held me back in so many ways. It drove me and others crazy. It started when I was just a kid. My father was a perfectionist and no matter how hard I tried, he’d find something wrong and focus on that thing. It affected me to the point where I couldn’t complete anything and be satisfied. I remember writing essays and tearing one sheet up after the other, working on projects and never being satisfied with the result. In some cases, failing an assignment because I wouldn’t hand in a less than perfect result. You get the idea… It was hell! Perfectionism is a major risk factor for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s worth working on this issue because it’s hell for you and it’s hell for others too.

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.” Edith Schaeffer

It took near death and going blind (a state I lived in for three years) to snap out of this behavior. It shouldn’t have taken something this extreme to learn the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life. Release. Letting go of the idea of perfection and being happy with what IS, even taking joy in imperfection. I think true artistry is found here.


  1. Stay away from triggers to perfectionism. If your perfectionism is an unrealistic idea of beauty and of how you should look, stop looking at magazines or Instagram posts that reinforce this ideal and avoid all those triggers that make you feel less than. Shift your focus to images that reinforce beauty without perfection.

  2. Hang out with open and accepting people. If you hang out with judgmental people you’re likely to feel like you’re not good enough. Find friends who accept you exactly as you are and encourage you to relax.

  3. Apply PIE. Praise, Improvement, Encouragement. This is an evaluation technique usually used in evaluating speeches but you can apply it to yourself, or your work. When you look at your own work, start out by asking yourself, “What is good about this?” and then praise your own work. Now, look at the areas where you could improve the work but don’t dwell on, or become fixated on these areas. Move onto giving yourself some encouragement. Example, “I didn’t achieve perfection here but this is pretty darn good!”....or even, “This is good enough!”

  4. Try the Sedona method. This is one technique that has really helped me release. Google it or buy the book by Hale Dwoskin.

  5. Done is good. Perfectionism often leads to procrastination. If you can’t do it perfectly you’d rather not do it all. Train yourself to complete work, even if it’s not perfect. Remember perfect is not possible and that you’ll be less productive if you strive for this standard. The Pomodoro method is a great tool for productivity.

If you’re really struggling with this, I’d highly recommend therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. I still have perfectionistic tendencies and it’s an ongoing battle but I am working on it. Let me prove it to you. I’m going to hit ‘publish’ without editing. Is this perfect? Of course not. It’s good enough. And... I’m good enough.


MORE INFORMATION Sedona Method - More about how it works - Pomodoro Method - More about how it works : The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called "Pomodoros") that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines or constantly-refilling inboxes. With time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration. Pomodoro is a cyclical system. You work in short sprints, which makes sure you're consistently productive. You also get to take regular breaks that bolster your motivation and keep you creative.

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