Understanding The Downside of Perfectionism

Many people are perfectionists and choose to be for various reasons; undoubtedly, we could debate the pros and cons of perfectionism indefinitely. However, I illustrate emotional intelligence insights on this vital topic in my book, The Power of Emotion.


Why Perfectionism Shouldn't Be Something to Strive For

Linda Marshall Author blog, Understanding The Downside of Perfectionism

From experience, I know there is a high price to pay when being ‘perfect’ is the goal.

Is Perfectionism a Weakness?

The need to be perfect is rising, hurting many, including our young people. There is growing evidence indicating perfectionism is causing severe depression and anxiety disorders. Yes, perfectionism can negatively affect lives.

In 2018, a worldwide study of almost 42,000 young people found perfectionism had increased over the past 27 years. The study stated that "striving to be perfect is not overly beneficial for employees and has high costs for employees and organizations." Clearly, this is not good news!

How Trying to Be Perfect Impacted Me

I agree with the study; striving for perfection can be harmful. I have been there and done that! If you are a perfectionist, I understand what you are going through. For many years, I was proud to view myself as a perfectionist. In my view, this was an important attribute that distinguished me from others. It positively impacted my success; I hit so many work and personal goals and treasured the rewards during that time. Yet, I often felt that being a perfectionist was ruining my life.

But here's the thing: being perfect is impossible. I remain steadfast on my journey to excellence. Through my book, The Power of Emotion, I share the ups and downs of my perfectionist behaviour.

How to Change Your Focus and Perfectionist Behaviour

It's hard to comprehend how striving to be perfect could be harmful. Often, people strive for perfection out of fear of failure and rarely celebrate their accomplishments, which affects their quality of life. Whatever the reason that drives them to be a perfectionist, it's not healthy or sustainable; they must shift their focus to achieve a joyful life.

I strongly recommend changing your mindset towards excellence. A change in behaviour takes time, but as you become more self-aware, you will increase your emotional intelligence and be on a path to excellence. I write about this in my blog, Mastering the Art of Excellence: Letting Go of Perfection.

You can learn the significance of excellence through self-reflection and reviewing your behaviour. Your journey to excellence becomes a way of life that requires high emotional intelligence, focus and passion. You will find valuable tips in this blog, The Competitive Edge: The Significance of Excellence in the Workplace.

Our Self-Improvement Journey is Ours, and it Begins With:

  1. Allowing ourselves to fail and learn from our mistakes – that's how we grow.
  2. Learning to love and accept our non-perfect self.
  3. Working consistently on strategies towards achievable outcomes. I demonstrate many more examples in my book.
I share my story about being a perfectionist and the role emotional intelligence plays in self-improvement in my book, The Power of Emotion.

Moving away from perfectionism has been a challenge without question. Once I recognized the disadvantages of this behaviour, I realized that perfection is irrelevant. If I focus on excellence, I am much more content and productive.

This article was originally published on September 7, 2021, and has been updated (September 2023).

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The Power of Emotion Book, Linda Marshall Author

The Power of Emotion Book, Linda Marshall Author

The Power of Emotion Book, Linda Marshall Author


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