- You won’t start going to the gym until you’re “in shape,” but you can’t get in shape given your current life circumstances so you’re left in limbo
- You don’t initiate sex with your wife unless the circumstances are perfect, which they rarely are. Hence, infrequent marital connection.
- You aren’t happy in your current job, but won’t apply for that dream job because you don’t hit every check-box of the posted position.
- You have interest in an activity, but are afraid of not getting it right away and being given feedback or criticism on your technique, so don’t even start.
Perfectionists, despite their name, are not perfect. When they run into difficulty, they often get overwhelmed or give up. They don’t respond to criticism very well, avoiding it wherever they can. Winning is important, instead of finding win-win situations and bending a little so collaboration can take place.
Instead, striving for excellence and being open to the learning experiences that come from striving is a much better life approach. Criticism and feedback provide learning and growth opportunities. Dealing with temporary obstacles and overcoming them requires grit, a favorite quality of mine.
Let’s take those bullet points from above, and instead of chasing perfection, let’s simply strive for excellence and see an alternate outcome:
- You want to look and feel good, but know you’re fatter than you want. You are willing to be humble, go to the gym and start slow, asking for help, because your long-term goals of looking good naked are worth short term mental and physical discomfort as you strive to pursue betterment.
- You realize both your wife and you are tired from work and kids and life, but also recognize that sex is important to you and your relationship. She may or may not be into it right then, but initiating and getting your needs out front and center instead of pussy-footing around the issue is the act of a confident man, and one who is striving for betterment of his sex life and marriage. Remaining positive in the face of “not tonight, but tomorrow,” raincheck is better than never getting in the game to begin with.
- You’re career has gone well, but you’re ready for new challenges. The odds and ends of the various projects you’ve been involved with over the last two or three jobs paints a picture of a hard worker with a variety of skills. However, the job in the sister industry has all these requirements in their job posting and you don’t meet all of them. Go after that job anyway! You just never know what they’re looking for, or what training they’ll be willing to put in to find the right person. As one who hires, finding someone with the right personality, that fits with the team, and brings in new skills or perspective can be much more valuable than someone who checks all the boxes but has limited upside or doesn’t fit the group.
- You recognize that you’ve got to learn how to hit a target/take elementary coding/get tapped out a million times as you start MMA /etc., and essentially build your skills over time before you can become proficient in anything. Rome isn’t built in a day, and the process of improvement itself can be rewarding as you’re working towards a goal.
As flawed people, we rarely achieve perfection. In Major League Baseball, in over 300,000 games and 135 years, only 23 perfect games have been thrown. It just doesn’t happen that much. As I’ve matured over the years, I’ve backed off from near-perfectionism of my youth to become more appreciative of the process. In doing so, I’ve obtained the state of flow much more often, and find peace more often than I ever did with closed-minded perfection driving me. With kids, it becomes much more easy to go with the flow when they aren’t doing things exactly as you’d like. Instead of yelling at my kids for their imperfections, goofing off on the field, and general lack of athletic skills (it’s genetic – I suck at ball sports), we smile and ask if they had a good time (usually the answer is yes) so things are good. We don’t tie our or their worth as a person in getting things perfect.
Live with integrity, and try to be a little better each day, but don’t strive for something that can’t be achieved consistently, or you’ll only end up feeling worse. And stop comparing yourself to others. They aren’t perfect either, despite what you may think. Good luck on the journey.