A lot of people who suffer from perfectionism think that their belief system leads them to better performance. They think that it pushes them to be better than they normally would be. There’s some truth to this, but it depends on how you play it. If you look at the concept of perfection as a mere suggestion or a standard, then you should be okay. At least it gives you something to aim for.
Do not just focus on what’s in front of you. Do not just focus on what’s convention or expedient. In this context, perfectionism can be a tremendous help.
However, too many people end up suffering from perfectionism because their intentions are different. They’re motivated by something else. They live their lives according to other people’s rules and expectations.
Like I said, having an idea of “the perfect” can help you if it acts as some sort of standard that will push you to behave or perform better than you normally would. However, if your idea of what’s perfect revolves around other people’s rules and expectations, then there’s going to be a problem.
You’re no longer living your life for yourself, you’re living your life for somebody else. You start living your life according to unrealistic standards that you yourself do not control. You keep trying to please others and you are no longer in charge of the process. It’s too easy to run yourself ragged. It is not unusual for people in this situation to end up chasing their tails only to end up with a whole lot of nothing after all that time, effort, and bother. Tragic!
The truth is, standards should push you, but they shouldn’t intimidate you. They shouldn’t grind you down or put you in a position where you’re going to burn out sooner rather than later. Instead of a burden, the idea of perfection should put a spring to your step and added vibrancy to your daily efforts.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to do this with perfectionism intended to impress others or live up to other standards. It’s also very easy to do this if your pursuit of perfection is done out of some sense of obligation. You end up being intimidated by these standards. They seem impossible. They seem so distant. In fact, things can get so back that perfection can appear mocking! Instead of something that’s supposed to inspire you and push you upward and out, they intimidate you so much that you end up discouraged. You don’t want to wake up the next day to do the same thing over and over again. It gets old very quickly.
Make no mistake. Standards should inspire you for something greater and higher. You know you’re dealing with the wrong standards when they make you hate yourself, doubt yourself, or otherwise grind yourself down. Please know the difference because perfectionism is a dead-end. You end up chasing your tail, running after shadows, and at the end of the day, even if you achieve your goals, you’re left holding an empty bag.