There is no good version of perfectionism

I’ve decided: there is no good version of perfectionism. I used to think differently. I used to believe that some level of perfectionism was okay, or good even. I don’t think that way anymore. Perfectionism is an “ism” because it’s a problem.

Perfectionism isn’t about doing your best. It’s about the fantasy of being perfect. Doing your best is exactly what it sounds like: doing your best. That’s not perfectionism. Conflating the two is dangerous, because you can never win; you’ll never reach perfection even if you do your best every single time.

From there, it’s only a short step to never being good enough. Doing your best won’t matter, because you’ll still feel like you failed.

Perfectionism isn’t about striving to be better, it’s about striving to be perfect. I can easily imagine someone objecting to my rejection of perfectionism with the excuse that it’s okay to try to be better, but that’s the thing. Striving to be better, striving to improve is about improving, not about perfection. Taking it to the place where you need to be perfect isn’t going to do you any favors for the very reason I talked about above: if perfect is your goal, you’ll never get there.

That’s why I no longer believe there’s any good version of perfectionism. None. Perfectionism is a problem that I need to get out of my life in every possible way I can.

Perfection will hold you back. It definitely holds me back. It slows me down when I write and it steals the fun from writing. It often keeps me from enjoying what I do.

There is no good version of perfectionism.