Perfection is an Illusion

Perfection is an illusion. Everyone has their own idea of what perfection is.

When I think about the word, my mind immediately goes to an illusion that’s always out of reach. Is it really worth striving for something that you can never achieve?

So why am I talking about perfection today?

Because striving for perfection is something that I used to struggle with. And, spoiler alert, it only lead to stress and anxiety.

I felt the pull of perfectionism most when I worked in the corporate world.

Perfectionism will still try to rear it’s ugly head in my current day affairs as a creative business owner.

But I’ve learned how to work through it as the feelings come up. This has lead to a more positive and healthy way of living.

If you suffer from the stress of perfectionism, read on to learn more about why, as humans, we do this and how you can shift your mindset into a more achievable and rewarding thought pattern.

Perfection is an Illusion

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Does Perfection Actually Exist?

Perfection is an illusion. It’s always out of reach. Yet perfectionists will not stop striving to be perfect in the activities they pursue, no matter how much it harms them and those around them.

There are many different ways perfectionism presents itself.

From perfectionist writers who cannot publish their work until every word is juuuust right.

To perfectionist business owners who drive themselves into bankruptcy because they can’t let go of projects (or employees) that aren’t up to par with what this person thinks a company should look like on paper.

In theory, perfectionism does sound positive.

After all, if you’re going for something then why not aim for the best?

But perfectionists often start off well intentioned before being consumed by their perfectionist tendencies.

What is Perfection in Life?

Is perfectionism a bad thing? When properly balanced, no.

Problem is, most perfectionist don’t know the proper balance.

It’s often the things perfectionists do well that they’re striving for perfection in.

And when it comes to our careers we are always better off being goal oriented than not.

But what is perfectionism then? What does perfect look like on paper or in life for you?

To some people, it could be having everything neatly tucked away in their closets and cabinets with no messes at all.

They might find an immaculate kitchen pleasing as well because there aren’t any dishes piling up from last night’s dinner.

For others, perfection can mean finishing projects quickly or even getting them done ahead of schedule…

An article I read recently said that “perfectionism will never make perfection possible, it’s just the perfectionist.”

What this means is that perfectionism will never make perfection happen.

It can only be achieved through a perfect person and we are not those people!

Perfection is an Illusion

We’re all flawed humans who don’t measure up to our own standards of what perfection looks like anyway. So why do we feel so drawn to striving for perfection?

Why do some of us even base how successful or worthy they are on their performance in certain areas?

One reason might be because society has conditioned us to think there’s no shame in wanting everything “just right”.

We’ve been told from an early age that being imperfect doesn’t cut it.

But when does our pursuit of perfection cross into unhealthy territory? What are the signs?

A perfectionist may have a hard time accepting responsibility for mistakes or failures. They’ll be quick to find someone else to blame.

The perfectionist may also have a hard time making decisions or being flexible because everything has to be just so. This is why they’re often called “the ultimate control freak.”

Perfectionism can take hold in any environment as long as the person pursuing perfection believes that perfectionism is necessary for success. Whether it’s at work, at home, or on the playing field.

It’s not possible to be perfectionist in every area of your life at once and still maintain a balanced lifestyle.

What is perfectionism then? It’s an impossible goal for all imperfect people…this further validates that perfection is an illusion.

What Does Progress Over Perfection Mean?

Perfectionism is a perfectionist’s worst enemy.

Because perfectionists are never satisfied with their own efforts, they will always be striving for perfection in every area of life.

No matter what it may cost them or the people around them.

A perfect outcome for situations where perfection might not even exist is impossible to achieve when we’re all flawed humans who can’t measure up to our standards. Let alone anyone else’s!

But there are ways that you can work towards perfection in your own life and still be content with the outcome.

One way to reframe perfectionism is by seeing it as progress over perfection. Or replace “perfection” with “excellence”.

It’s not possible to be perfectionist in every area of your life at once and still maintain a balanced lifestyle.

It’s much more healthy for you, both mentally and physically, if you choose one or two areas that are important to you where perfection (excellence) might actually mean something.

Choosing perfectionism as a goal in one area of your life might mean that you stop getting things done because perfection is the only thing on your mind.

For another person it could be choosing to take more time doing what they love because perfection doesn’t matter there, or not worrying about how messy their home is because perfection isn’t important to them.

Progress not Perfection

Why do we Crave Perfection?

Perfectionists often have very high expectations of themselves and feel as though they need to be perfect in every area or risk failure.

This can also lead to feeling like a loser or “less than” if perfection isn’t possible.

They may set goals for themselves without considering whether perfection is achievable (spoiler alert: it’s not).

The perfectionist might not be aware that their perfectionism is affecting other people.

Often, a perfectionist mindset was learned from parents who had these same tendencies while raising them.

Parents who were perfectionists about their children, constantly reminding them of all the things they needed to be perfect in.

When this is a parent’s response to every mistake or missed opportunity, it can lead kids to feel like there’s no point because nothing seems good enough and that perfectionism doesn’t matter.

This often leads us down an endless spiral where we’re always looking for perfection and never feeling satisfied with what life gives us.

It also makes people around us unhappy.

Perfectionist parents may not notice the impact on other people but those closest might see how frustrated mom gets when her daughter falls off bike without training wheels.

Or dad yells at his son for spilling milk while making breakfast together.

Even if these moments are fleeting and don’t happen often, perfectionism is affecting those around the perfectionist.

Perfection is an Illusion: 5 Steps to Give Up Perfectionism

So how do you start to live a reality where you see that perfection is an illusion? How do you finally set yourself free of all the stress and anxiety?

It took me many years of proactive to develop positive habits and change my mindset around perfection.

Below are the top 5 changes I made that turned my thought patterns from worry and feelings of “less than” to thought patterns of abundance, confidence and knowing I’m good enough:

  1. Replace the word “perfection” with “excellence” and choose to excel at all you do rather than make everything “perfect”.
  2. Start each day with positive affirmations
  3. When feeling of perfectionism start to creep up, stop what you are doing and don’t start again until you are in a better mindset (meditate, take a 10 minute walk, etc….)
  4. Practice self care
  5. Incorporate a morning and nightly routine that starts and ends with caring for and loving yourself

These steps may seem “silly” or you may think, “sure I can do all that real quick”….but these steps take time to build in your everyday routines.

And building them in your EVERDAY routines are the only way they will work.

It’s just like working out. You won’t lose 20 pounds just because you worked out once.

Same goes for the these practices. The more you do them, the better results you will see.

Check out some of my favorite resources below that helped me with the 5 steps mentioned above:

Perfection is an Illusion Conclusion

In conclusion, perfection is all in your head. It’s pushing yourself to be perfect, when perfection doesn’t exist.

That perfectionist mindset can come from parents who had the same tendencies and let it affect their kids too.

Or maybe perfectionism was learned because of some other event or person that they looked up to for validation.

Either way, perfectionism is an illusion. It can lead to feelings of “less than”.

The perfectionist may not be aware that their perfectionism is affecting other people.

And it can lead to a never-ending spiral where the perfectionist looks for perfection and doesn’t feel satisfied with what life gives them, which makes those around them unhappy too.

We need to take the time and put in some work into building our positive habits that will help us give up perfectionism.

Changing our thought patterns is one of the most powerful ways to let go of unhealthy and unwanted behaviors.

Perfection is an Illusion


Until next time,


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