How perfectionism is a sure way to fail

 In Blog, Life

I’ve been wondering why it has become so difficult lately for me to write new articles for this blog.

I have plenty of ideas, subjects that I’d love to write about, yet something interferes with the actual writing. Partly it is procrastination of course, but I have been wondering if perfectionism isn’t the main culprit…

You see, as much as I am an avid and enthusiastic reader, I find the opposite exercise of writing very difficult. I like my sentences to be polished, and my meaning ultra clear, and when I can’t get that happening quickly I postpone it until later (more and more often later seems to become never).

In some ways, I convince myself that not writing ensures that I’m not writing badly – if I don’t try, I can’t be crap at it, right? Wrong!

This is what psychologists call a cognitive distortion, when our brain tells us something is rational when it isn’t actually; because the reality is that if I don’t try, I have 0% chance of succeeding, but when I do try, even not terribly well, I have at least some chances of succeeding.

That is one dark side of perfectionism, it paralyses us.

The other issue is that we try, and try, and try, and try (you get the gist) but cannot stop working on what we do, never being satisfied with where we get to, because perfection is not reached.

The dark side here is of course that very few things in this world are made to be perfect, so basically we are failing our own expectations all the time, where perfection isn’t even possible.

Motherhood is an example I have written about previously (here and here), where our expectation of being perfect drives us into the ground, and we beat ourselves up because we “fail”.

So we are left with a huge amount of effort that we put in, and results that never measure up.
Sounds exhausting? It is!

But hey, I’m not just here to talk about all the problems that exist, but to also suggest an idea that leads to different perspectives:

In the case of motherhood, and most other areas where we could put in infinite amounts of effort for an ever diminishing rate of return (work being the other big one that comes to mind), the answer might lie in the beautiful concept of aiming for “good enough” instead of perfect.

Good enough is exactly what it says, it’s good, and it’s enough. Yes, more could be done, but it is not necessary or even desirable (because of the inordinate amount of extra time that would take – and time is the one thing of which we have so very little).

Because the aim of life is not to produce near-perfect outcomes and kill ourselves in the process, but to do what needs to be done in a reasonable way and so to find time to live, to find joy, to connect with others, and to read more books!

What might perfectionism prevent you from doing?

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