Stop Pursuing Perfection, It’s a Trap

Obsessing over perfection can be a career killer. It’s a downward spiral; the more you apply pressure on yourself to achieve unrealistic goals, the more you’ll let yourself down and the lower you’ll feel. Constantly failing to live up to your own expectations will set you up for a lifetime of feeling second-rate. If you want to feel proud and positive about your professional life, it’s time to do away with this idea of ‘perfection’ and focus on the possibilities within your own potential, instead.

‘Perfection’ doesn’t exist

Everyone’s idea of success and happiness is different. On top of this, we all have different skills, strengths and weaknesses. If our career is a giant race, then everyone’s starting blocks are staggered and there are a million and one different finishing lines. Realising that perfection is just an idealistic dream (and completely unattainable) is a liberating moment.

Perfection is like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow – you can never reach it. Even when we do achieve our goals, there is always more we could do or ways we could be better. In an instant, that pot of gold feels far away again. It’s a never-ending cycle of wanting, trying and always coming up short. Your career is something you create for yourself, and something you should feel proud of.  Shifting your desire to find enjoyment in your vocation is better than lusting after the mirage that is perfection.

People don’t care

Another really comforting conclusion to draw is people don’t care about your imperfections, if it doesn’t really affect them. Your boss just wants you to do a good job, and your colleagues want someone who they can achieve great things alongside. Everyone has their own issues that they’re working through; you’re not alone. The more you talk badly about yourself and consistently bring your imperfections under the spotlight, the more you’ll make others reflect upon how they aren’t perfect, and they’ll start feeling self conscious too. As well as this, forever pointing out your own shortcomings just highlights to people all the ways you could be better, not how great you already are.

Having said this, it’s important not to be ashamed at having flaws. Demonstrating signs of weakness actually just proves you’re human and makes you relatable. People will feel more comfortable around you, knowing that you aren’t up on your high horse looking down, judging them in the same way you’ve so harshly been judging yourself. It’s all about what you decide to make your sole focus.

Learn from your mistakes

Analysing your mistakes over and over again won’t get you anywhere. However, understanding where you went wrong and how you can avoid a similar occurrence next time is the far healthier alternative. Being able to deal with an error then and there, take a lesson from it and move on will make you stronger, and better at what you do. Reminding yourself that nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes is also a way of helping you move on, and let the past go.

Focus on what you can control

Throughout your career there’ll always be expectations placed upon you. It’s up to you to weed out unrealistic expectations from the things that lie within your potential, and quit beating yourself up about situations you have no control over. Instead of stressing about scenarios you really can’t change, invest your energy into areas you actually have a shot at improving. Giving yourself the opportunity to have small wins is the best way to boost your mood and keep you feeling positive and productive as your work towards realising your longterm dreams.

Create realistic goals

Instead of striving for something completely subjective that has no end point (like ‘perfection’), why not focus on things we can actually measure our success against? Stop anxiously pulling apart ways you’re not up to scratch or ways you wish you were wired differently, and start identifying weak areas you can work on. Letting go of this need for ‘perfection’ doesn’t mean letting go of all ambition and becoming a drifter. It just means turning your attention to realistic goals, and shifting your mindset away from a toxic lust for success. Instead of trying to achieve perfection, focus on achieving your own personal bests.

Perfection shmersh-mecshon. As soon as you stop reaching for the impossible, you’ll realise how many amazing possibilities there really are.

By Phoebe Spinks

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.