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Good enough is perfect

Perfectionism in and of itself isn't bad, but it can be overrated at times. There's a big difference between being a high achiever, and being a perfectionist. The former makes you strive for perfection, while the latter makes it impossible for you to participate in anything unless everything about the situation is perfect according to your standards. The former gets your tasks finished, allowing you to move on to the next task, while the latter gets you sometimes to the point of paralysis that nothing gets done at all. We sometimes mistake successful people as being perfectionists, and so some of us channel that idea that perfectionism is a trait to embody. But when you look closely, the people who are successful are not those who were always successful since the beginning, but those who kept rising from the ashes every time they failed. These successful individuals have managed to evolve and improve themselves over time. To a perfectionist, failure is not an option, and so this debilitating fear of failure can prevent them from getting anything done in the first place, sometimes even in the simplest of tasks. They refuse to go and have a good time at the party because they're not wearing their perfect dress. They give up on a chance to be in a wonderful and fulfilling relationship because they'd rather wait for the "perfect" one. They're ready to start their business, but they can't even build their website yet because they're still looking for the perfect web designer, even though they've been searching for three years.

In contrast, to a high achiever, the website will get put up as soon as possible, and then tweaked and improved over time. It's not going to be perfect at first, but it'll be close. The high achiever knows that although she may not have the perfect dress to the party, she'll still have an absolute blast. The high achiever is already halfway through his weight-loss program, while the perfectionist is still stuck at finding the perfect gym, and finding the perfect workout clothes.

I'm not advocating that you should lower your standards, but you should acknowledge if what you're putting yourself through is putting you at a disadvantage. If people are passing you by, you should look at the lane you're in to see if it's the most efficient for you. If your peers all have wonderful jobs they've grown to love, maybe you should re-think what you're still doing in school, and realize that jumping from one major to another, trying to find the perfect degree, is a complete waste of time, money, and effort. We've all had writer's block at some point, and that in itself is actually a great example of perfectionism being counterproductive. To a high achiever, they'll do their best to be successful, but when they hit little bumps along the way, they won't get fazed. They'll only move up and onward. The perfectionist will be stuck at the first hump, belittling herself for making the tiniest mistake. She won't allow herself to move on from this mistake, and at this point, she's already given up, even though she's only at the phase of trying to figure out the name of her start-up company.

I used to be a perfectionist myself, and a lot of that came from my cultural background growing up in a strict Asian family of overachievers. When I proudly announced to my mom that I was graduating valedictorian in high school and I won all these special awards, her first response was, "well, why didn't you get that particular award?" She was referring to an award that I didn't get. I learned from a young age that instead of being proud of what I've achieved, I should question myself on why I didn't get what I didn't get. Anything short of perfect wasn't good enough. My constant need for validation and victories triggered my perfectionistic outlook. Over time and through many years, I was lucky enough to have used this perfectionism as fuel in making leaps and bounds in my traveling and careers, but lately as an adult and especially with regards to my relationships, it has alienated me from a lot of what otherwise would have been great opportunities. As soon as I recognized that my perfectionism was turning into the maladaptive kind, I knew it was time for a change. And so that subplot began in my life.



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