Is Your Perfection Ruining Your Career?

By Mel Sim

Why perfect is overrated.

You read that right – being perfect isn’t exactly, well, perfect. But unfortunately, we are all caught in that perfect trap. How many times have you heard yourself say the following: “Before I apply for that new job, I need to make sure my resume is perfect.” “Before I think of selling my cakes, it needs to be… (yups, perfect).” “Before I go pitch my idea to my boss, I gotta make sure it is solid and… (ah huh, PERFECT!).

It's completely human to strive for perfection; after all it’s ingrained in us and we often see people who are successful at what they do or seem to be living the life are perfect. Maybe it’s that influencer who seems to hold it all together with her perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect photos of food, and perfect travels. Or maybe it’s your boss who sashays into work looking professionally perfect, speaks perfectly, and well, is basically 100% perfect. After all, these are people we hold in high regard, and of course they are perfect to us!

But guess what? There really isn’t such a thing as 100% unless you are a fully automated computer (even then, we’d say it comes with a 99.99% guarantee only!). And you know why there is no such thing? Because it is simply not possible. That perfect influencer is bound to have a bad photo (or even a whole lot more bad than good) that she’s not posting up on social media. Your seemingly perfect boss has most certainly made a few mistakes here and there throughout her career.

However, if you keep subscribing to the “I need to be perfect” mantra, you’re going to run into a lot of problems. And if you are aiming for perfection at work, it’s going to backfire on you like the following:

#1 You are stressing yourself out
With trying to strive for perfection comes stress. It is easy to see why! That’s because you are putting on a ton of pressure on yourself to be perfect… and it’s not even attainable so you get upset when you don’t hit that 100! Did you know that work-related stress is one of the most common reasons why people fall sick? And that it affects your mental health? That’s because of all the pressure you’re putting on yourself that can severely affect your wellbeing.

And when you work yourself down to try to achieve that perfection, you are inadvertently making yourself fall sick because you don’t slow down enough or take enough rest days to recuperate. Sick is for the weak, you say? Sick will make you weak and unable to work!

#2 You don’t learn from mistakes
Mistakes are huge teachers at work. By making mistakes only will you learn the right way to do something and then you’ll do it the right way thereafter. But when you try to strive for perfection, you’re worried about making mistakes because that’s not perfect. So you do minimal, volunteer yourself less for riskier tasks simply because you don’t want to fail. But this will only backfire because you’re holding yourself back from learning naturally and picking up new skills. This will also cause your manager to think you’re not interested to progress in your career and that you don’t allow for any room for growth.

#3 You don’t think of new ideas
You’ve worked out what you think is the perfect way to do your job and so you’re sticking to it. Did we tell you that life isn’t perfect and that sometimes it throws a curve ball? And when that happens what you think worked isn’t going to? The thing about imperfection is that it encourages you to be flexible and to adapt. Imagine if there really was only one perfect way to do something; we’d all be stuck in a rut! So live a little – do something not as perfect as you would, and your creativity will thank you for it.

#4 You’ll find it difficult to bounce back
You’ve got your set ways to do something, you always have to project this perfect image of yours… then suddenly your company goes through some restructuring, you got a new boss, or maybe a new responsibility is being thrown at you. Or perhaps something is happening in your personal life that is a little difficult to deal with. Trying to still maintain that perfection is going to extra difficult at times like these because everything that you thought you knew is being thrown out of whack. Imagine trying to put on an OK front when you’re seriously not OK! It’s perfectly fine to have down days (everyone goes through them, even the people whom you thought were perfect) and it’s OK to feel less than perfect. That’s after all what being human is all about!

So go on, be less than perfect. Remember, no one is perfect and the sooner you accept that it’s OK not to be perfect all the time, the better and more inspired you’ll feel.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

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