Letting go of perfection

The dark side of perfectionism.


Being a perfectionist is all the rage these days. Perfectionism has a dark side to it, which gets glossed over.

When you are new to something, perfectionism acts as a hindrance. Many times, you know that you cannot dedicate wholly to something. In this scenario, perfectionism prevents you from starting—your subconscious has been trained to reject any activity whose outcome it foresees as not meeting the high standards you have set for yourself. When you face this situation, reason with your brain saying—I know that I might not ace this, but I want to do it for the fun of doing it. No rule states that you have to ace everything you do—the joy of doing something trumps the outcome.

This applies in work setting too. Take, for example, that you have to work on a rotten project and make it right. The rot is so thick that it permeates every aspect of the project. Being the perfectionist, you want to set everything right all at once, which is humanly impossible given the extent of the rot. Hence, you become depressed and grumpy and lose sight of the original goal. The right way to solve this is to remind yourself of the saying—little drops of water make the mighty ocean. List all the things wrong with the project, prioritize those that need to be fixed immediately and work on them. The other cruft in the project will irk you, but remind yourself that you will get to them one day and set them right.

You start something with zeal, you are almost in sight of the finish line, but you never seem to finish—why? You are in an infinite loop of polishing to meet the high standards you have set for yourself. The question to ask is, is the time you are investing in refining giving diminishing returns? Are the improvements making any difference other than giving you a sense of accomplishment? If the answer is yes, call it done.

Being a perfectionist is good, but do not take it to an extreme. Remember the saying—even the nectar of life, if taken in voluminous proportions, is poisonous.

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Photo by Fabrizio Chiagano on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Letting go of perfection

  1. Pingback: On Writing | Void

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