top of page
  • Writer's picturePak H Chau

Perfectionism is the worst

Are you a perfectionist?

You know you are a perfectionist when…

…you leave projects half-done because you are no longer motivated to finish it.

Or worse, when wanting to do everything, you end up doing nothing.


Because you are afraid to fail.

Perfectionism is a vicious cycle. You set absurdly high standards for yourself but because you fear failure, you have zero motivation. Unable to meet those standards, your sense of self suffers. And so the cycle goes. Talk about perfection paralysis.

So you see, being a perfectionist, is not as good as it sounds.

“It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”

Quote: Tina Fey Comedian / Writer of Saturday Night Live

A study published in 2017 by Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill of the American Psychological Association documented the rise of perfectionism in the course of 27 years with the highest increase of 33% seen in socially-prescribed perfectionism.

It could be the result of parenting (think Tiger Mom), our childhood experiences, or the educational system. But a big contributor is social media which has pressured us to form the illusion of perfection what with its highly unforgiving audience – an army of bashers and critics. But because the need for acceptance is deeply rooted in us, we try desperately to adapt. Sadly, our self-esteem is now highly correlated to the number of likes (or loves) that we get from our social media posts.

Ironically, perfectionism is not really about striving for perfection. It is about you feeling that you are not, never, good enough.

Don’t get me wrong. Pushing yourself to be better is always good. But it should never be because of other people, and certainly not at the expense of your health – both physical and mental.

Because when perfectionism is driven by feelings of inadequacy and other fears like fear of failure, then something’s gotta change.

How then can you overcome perfectionism? Let me count the ways.

See the big picture.

Once you see how your task fits into the larger scheme of things, you’re less likely to spend too much time on it because your focus will be on the greater outcome.


Perfectionists have the propensity to do everything well. But therein also lies the problem. You do EVERYTHING. Why? Because you like to be in control. Perfectionism is an addiction to control. But really, you must hand over the reins, relinquish control, so you can do more important things. Channel your energy into things you love that are important to you, things that make you feel good about yourself.

Seek help.

And accept help. It pays to talk to people who see things from a different perspective. Reaching out to other people will help loosen the pressure you have cast upon yourself. It will help you overcome myopia and pluck you out of your perfect world.

Face your emotions.

Especially the negative ones. Are you feeling angry? Or afraid? Face it. Don’t run away from it. Disappointments, failures, setbacks are all part of life. They are meant to reroute us because, let’s face it, life is not one straight line. And your drive must not be dependent on successes alone.

Perhaps the most important step in overcoming perfectionism is to really love yourself and shake off any feelings of low self-worth.

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” is a quote from Alexander Pope, an 18th-century English poet. And this also applies to you. You gotta give yourself some leeway too; and forgive yourself when things don’t go the way you expect them to be. If you are compassionate towards other people, all the more you must be compassionate to yourself.

You must stop telling yourself that you are not enough. Because you are enough. And you are not your work. You are not your possessions.

Once you learn to do these things, you are less likely to buckle down from a seemingly gargantuan task because you realize that if you don’t make it on your

first try, you can always start over or try another route.

You’ll achieve a shift in mindset – from perfection… to progress, making the most out of what you have.

You gain resilience and flexibility, even creativity - key attributes that will make you a winner in this race called life.

The end result? You become limitless, you are free.

“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”

Quote: Lorne Michaels. Creator / Producer of Saturday Night Live


45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page