Perfectionism is Bad For You

By Daniel Scocco

I used to be a perfectionist, and it damaged me in more than one way. Over the years I have recognized this problem, and I am almost getting over it. But one step back, what is perfectionism? Quoting Wikipedia:

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a belief that perfection can and should be attained. In its pathological form, perfectionism is a belief that work or output that is anything less than perfect is unacceptable. At such levels, this is considered an unhealthy belief, and psychologists typically refer to such individuals as maladaptive perfectionists.

When you behave with perfectionism, you basically want to make things perfect, or not make them at all. Why is this bad for you? Because more often than not you will get blocked and paralyzed if you try to make things perfect. Even if you manage to make them perfect at one point, it might be too late to reap the rewards from it.

Practically speaking, how can perfectionism affect you badly on the Internet? In several ways, here are some examples:

  • You might never launch that website you had planned just because you can’t seem to find the perfect structure for it
  • You might spend too much time tweaking your design because you want to make it perfect, and on the mean while you neglect the content part which is far more important
  • You might never publish that big article just because you can’t seem to make it perfect and ready to be published
  • You might end up never trying that money making idea because it is not perfect and could not work out

You get the idea. Striving for excellence is a good thing, but you should realize that this will come along the way and from constant trial and error and adaptions. If you always try to get it perfected right from the beginning, you will get blocked and paralyzed.

In other words: Start with anything that is good enough, and improve it from there.




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32 Responses to “Perfectionism is Bad For You”

  • Matej

    Oh my God, I’m total perfectionist and I hate myself because of it. Nothing ( well, almost) is good enough for me, in life or online, I always want something …. highest.

    Sometimes these goals are to high for me, sometimes I don’t make enough effort to accomplish them because it’s maybe to hard at the moment, but I don’t want less so I ….. stuck up

    In “online world”, when I want to make something better – in some cases I ruin it, or schedule it for later because it’s not good enough and I don’t have knowledge to make it better ( example: site design ).

  • TechZoomIn

    Little confusing but perfect… i observed it with myself too..

    ending line touchd daniel :Start with anything that is good enough, and improve it from there ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dan @ PowerDosh.com

    I used to have this problem, but I’ve minimised the effect it has on me and my life considerably. I started finding that I actually finished projects and had more time!

  • Vygantas

    I love perfectionism. Especially when I’m designing something. It takes me from 2-3 months to finish a web design. But once I’m done… Everyone LOVES it. I do till I like myself.

    “You might end up never trying that money making idea because it is not perfect and could not work out”

    It’s more lack of belief in yourself.

  • Yuen

    I behaving with Perfectionism.
    I don’t think Perfectionism is sickness, it isn’t bad at all too ๐Ÿ™‚
    I think so… and if we could manage it well with time we have, it’s not bad.

  • Jani

    I’ve experienced everything you mentioned in the last month, and it still keeps coming, but finally I feel I can get over it. Thanks for the post, it gave me some reassuring.

    By the way, if someone is not the perfectionist type, he can often find himself producing crappy work.

    I believe, for us, perfectionists is the biggest challenge to find the balance between being not perfectionist but still producing excellent work and doing our best, but it’s hard cause I often end up doing nothing or awful work…

  • Stu McLaren

    This is a great article – especially for anyone starting their own business.

    I heard a quote a number of years ago from a guy by the name of Mike Litman that is perfectly in align with this same message.

    He said…

    “You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going”.

    Don’t wait. Get your ideas out there and perfect them as you go.

    Thanks again.

  • Avinash

    Daniel, Your spot on, Perfectionism is what holds back many bloggers, even I spent a lot of time tweaking themes, then learnt from those mistakes.

    Nothings perfect we can perfect them along the way once we start it.

  • Imran Anwar

    This was an almost perfect article. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Neither extreme is good.

    Being paralyzed by perfection is as bad as being paralyzed by anything else (love, fear, laziness, a stroke). Being totally lacking in seeking perfection (with a just wing it, it may fall into place) is ridiculous too. The world is full of “great examples” of that. George W. Bush, the war on Iraq, and many people we know in our lives.

    I hope you find this comment “just about perfect”. LOL

    Imran
    Web: http://www.imran.com
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    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/imran

  • Potato Chef

    I also used to (still do in some cases) have this problem. You would think that I would have gotten over it…because after all these years I have yet to achieve perfection.

  • UnknownAdmin

    “In other words: Start with anything that is good enough, and improve it from there.”
    Well that’s the problem, it’s not good enought, until it’s perfect.

    Good way to make it easier, is to remember that even if it would be perfect for you, it will never satisfy all of your visitors.

  • Rajaie AlKorani

    I think I’ve perfected the art of being a perfectionist.

  • Rarst

    I think it is fine if paralyzing aspect is not present. If you have time and determination to improve something – why not? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Franklin Bishop

    I read a similar post about perfectionism a couple of days ago. Perfectionism will be bad for you and your blog if you have one. You might also wast a lot of time that you could’ve spent on your blog. It could also become a very stressful situation and make you give up on your blog if you continue to try to be perfect. I think the author that wrote this article is right on.

  • Attraction Marketing

    Good post…I teach this to my members all the time. Too many people feel like they need to know everything about advertising and marketing before they actually start to do it.

    I simply tell them to find one or two tactics that are easy to implement and do it…then learn some of the more advanced stuff as you go along.

  • Angel Cuala

    Is there really such a thing as perfect? And yes, I have the same point of view with you when it comes to aiming for perfection, Daniel. In any business, I believe that we should focus on quality but time is also important. In blogging, we cannot tell the search engine to wait just because we still trying to perfect our posts.

    If our customer/readers feel that we are sincere to give them quality posts, then who cares for perfection?

  • Melvin

    Wow, you’ve hit it up dude! Im not really a perfectionist but I always strive for excellence as much as possible and some people call me insane for caring too much about perfecting or giving the highest quality using my highest possible effort. I’ve never done anything that you’ve stated on your bulleted list but I think in real life I try to be perfect or at least close to it as possible… Maybe pride has something to do with being a perfectionist?

  • Jin

    Very good read. Fighting perfectionism has been on my mind for a while now. Two things that always hinder my goals are perfectionism and bad time management. I’ve written articles on both subject very recently:

    http://www.8164.org/stones-and-pebbles/
    http://www.8164.org/serpent-feet/

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. Keep up the good posts.

  • Aibek

    Totally agree, so many times i had scrapped the article just because it was missing something. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • thezerox

    I totally agree. And something else, you must learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are not always bad things.

  • Medical Transcriptionist

    Take it from me, these were my observations about perfectionists:

    1.) Perfectionists cannot be good leaders; most of their ventures would be one-man show and not teamwork.
    2.) Their thought processes are limited or narrow, which limits their career/financial growth as they are encompassed in a small circle.
    3.) Prolonged stints of perfectionist thoughts could lead to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. (a pervasive pattern in adulthood characterized by unattainable perfectionism; preoccupation with rules, details, and orderliness; unreasonable attempts to control others; excessive devotion to work; and rumination to the point of indecisiveness, all at the expense of flexiblity, openness, and efficiency.)

  • izzat aziz

    nobody is perfect, you got to work it,
    to become as perfect as you can..
    but not totally perfect.

    me too try to be perfect in blogging, but there is so much room
    for me to improve. we only can be better not perfect.

  • L-Jay

    Just like beauty, perfection is in the eye of the beholder. In my art class at school I would think my painting is perfect but my teacher always thought it wasn’t finished – she wanted me to add more things in, more colour here, more lines there. People think that to have perfection you have to do a lot to it – adding more and more – but I think the simplier, the better, the more perfect. And so I’m obsessed with perfect simplicity…lol.

  • Saeed

    I like the sound of “striving towards excellence” instead of “achieving perfectionism”. Thank you for the article, Daniel. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Andre Thomas

    This is an awesome post. I also posted on this subject several months ago and it’s great to see I’m not the only one who’s talking about this.

    I’ve always urged my clients to roll out their website BEFORE it’s working “perfectly” and refine it as we get feedback from users.

    But people seem very resistant to the idea.

  • Wakish

    Yes indeed! I felt the side-effects too.. It’s good to read the advice of others on this trait..
    It’s definetly worth thinking about what you’ve been saying.

    – Wakish –
    (http://wakish.com)

  • mattypenny

    A friend of mine used to say “We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, which is quite a nice way to put it.

  • MLRebecca

    I have to say, I think your bulleted list sums up some of the walls I’ve faced as a result of my perfectionism. However, I’m learning to lighten up a bit, and realize that my trying my best is what matters. I’m so glad you’ve done the same! Great advice, and great post!

  • Social Media Marketing Blog

    nice post but sometimes i feel perfection is key to success.

  • hayze

    You are so right on the money with this one. I can’t even count how many opportunities have passed me by because I was so busy trying to get it just right that I never got it done. It’s better to start with a little and then build it to perfection. Thanks for the post.

  • medyum

    I think Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve perfected the art of being a perfectionist.
    thanks for sharing.

  • Mr.A

    ‘perfectionism is bad for health ‘i agrees but often its not bad for ‘success’if u are perfect perfectionist.:)

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