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5 Steps To Getting Out of The Perfection Trap

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People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.  – Edith Schaeffer

For the majority of us the struggle to achieve work-life balance is a constant one. Even with all of the technology we have at our fingertips, we seem to rush through life at an even faster paste. More now than ever the hectic day-to-day life of most Americans is filled with fifty percent work, forty percent family and ten percent self.

It’s hard to conclude if the true struggle is in finding the balance or defining it. Being the diverse individuals that we are, cultural and geographical upbringing plays a large part in what our image of perfection is. One thing for sure no matter what part of the world you are from, American culture has its own myths of what perfection is or should be. We are fed the dream of obtaining the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect family. We live the majority of our lives chasing this perfection and carrying the guilt as we run the race. Perhaps we should open ourselves to seeking a more guilt-free life and allow more choices of what perfection is. One of the best ways to do this is to stop seeking perfection and seek happiness.

Happiness over Perfection

In an ideal world perfection would equal happiness. Yet it’s ironic that to be truly happy we must learn to let go of perfection. There are many stages to letting go. It’s important that you conquer each one as they come. Here are five steps you can take to get you started.

1.  Know your self-worth: You are good enough just the way you are. Your opinion of yourself is the only opinion that matters. When we are happy with ourselves others are happy with us. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Spend more time focusing on the qualities about yourself that you like and less on the ones that you dislike. Your very existence is the proof of your value. Life has no price tag and appreciation of your life starts with you.

2. Don’t compare: The first that we must do is redirect our focus inward instead of outward. Keeping up with the Jones’ drives the focus to someone else, who may very well have the perfection you seek, but not happiness. Focusing inwardly will abort the competing and the feeling that you’re inferior to anyone else. Appreciate yourself and focus what you have done and are doing.

3. Keep your environment realistic: Perfectionism is contagious. Don’t allow the beliefs of others persuade you to live a life you are not at peace with. Surround yourself with family and friends who focus on living their best life and encourage you to do the same. Minimize your contact with all of outside deterrents that encourage the environment of perfection.

4. Accept the nature of mistakes:  Making mistakes is how we learn. It’s the law of nature. It’s how birds fly and how babies walk.  By nature no one is perfect all of the time at everything. Accepting that we will make mistakes opens our eyes to weaknesses and gives us the opportunity to strengthen. It’s not our mistakes that define us but it’s how we recover from them.

5. There are no failures only lessons:  We only fail when we do not learn from adversity. When something doesn’t go the way we planned, there a lesson to be learned.  Face your failures head on and apply them when you come up against a similar situation.  Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for wisdom and internal growth.

Perfection means different things to different people, therefore it can not be defined for you.  If you’re focusing on someone else’s’ definition of perfect, you may never obtain it.  If you focus on what brings joy and happiness to your life, not only will you define perfection for yourself but you will have obtained it.


Written by Beverly S. Davis

August 31, 2012 at 11:14 am

Posted in Life Balance

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