Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When trying to improve any area of your life, you may sometimes find that you have the tendency to try to be "perfect". Some people hold the belief that if you do not go all out and try to become the best, then it is not worth the time or effort. Holding yourself to a high standard is fantastic, but there is a thin line between high standards and perfectionism. In this article I will explain the drawbacks of pursuing perfection and why choosing excellence is the right choice in most situations.

Perfectionism is a personal philosophy of demanding perfection from yourself and accepting nothing less. In most cases, a goal of perfection is unrealistic at best and impossible at worst. This is because perfection often can not be concretely defined and is subjective. For instance, can the perfect body be defined? Ask ten random people to define the perfect body and you will most likely get different answers from every one of them. While there are scientifically supported methods of determining attractiveness and health (such as waist to hip ratio, body mass index, and features like strong jawlines in men), you would be hard-pressed to find universal agreement as to what would constitute the perfect body.

There are exceptions to every rule, and in this case it is no different. In a few specific situations the pursuit of perfection is feasible and almost a requirement. At very high levels of competition where the slightest advantage can be the determining factor, those who are able to hone their craft to perfection are often victorious. An example of this would be Olympic athletes who have a set routine to perform. If they are able to pull off a flawless performance, a medal is pretty much guaranteed.

Another situation when someone should strive for perfection is if there are other people's lives at stake. A definite example that comes to mind would be surgeons that perform major operations. One mistake could not only cost the surgeon his career, but also the life of his patient.

What it all boils down to is making efficient use of your time. Let's say you are writing an article or creating a website. Is it better to spend tons of time trying to make it perfect, or does it make more sense to make it excellent and then move onto other projects? Let me be clear, I'm not saying you should churn out lots of low quality work. The fact is you can only edit and polish your creation so much until you hit the 
point of diminishing returns. 

The biggest downfall perfectionists experience is all of the good things they miss out on by neglecting the other parts of life. This is seen many times in men who spend all of their time and effort on their careers; they find it very difficult to meet and date women because they neglected their social skills. Life is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling as a well-rounded individual that is excellent in multiple areas of life.

To attain excellence in multiple areas of your life, it is necessary to find the methods and strategies that produce the best results for you. What has worked best for me is focusing intensely on one area of my life until I achieve the degree of excellence I desire, and then move on to my next goal. This approach works best for me because I thrive when focusing on one thing, whereas someone that is better at multitasking might find a different approach to be best. 

Life is way too short to waste it by striving to be perfect in just one small facet of your existence. Choose to live a full and rich life. Choose excellence. 

Perfectionism: What's Bad About Being Too Good

What to Do When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough: The Real Deal on Perfectionism: A Guide for Kids
When Perfect Isn't Good Enough: Strategies for Coping With Perfectionism
Overcoming Perfectionism: The Key to a Balanced Recovery
Perfecting Ourselves To Death: The Pursuit Of Excellence And The Perils Of Perfectionism


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