Perfection Robs You of Joy

26 Feb

Striving for perfection has always been seen as an admirable goal. Whether it’s getting into the right schools, cleaning your house just right or toning your body, perfection is what we want. Or is it?


Here are four reasons not to strive for perfection:

1. When we are hyper-focused on perfection, there is a chance we may miss the things that would give us joy.

In her 2012 article in Harvard Magazine titled “Effortless Perfection”, Isabel Ruane wrote: “Last winter, I had wondered how I could ever reconcile my guilt at having relaxed my work ethic with my certainty that doing so had allowed me to grow in other ways. I had worried about where my duty lay: to Harvard, for offering me an education and paying a great share of its cost; to my parents, for raising me, guiding me, and making sacrifices for me; or to myself, maybe more in need of reflection and friendship than a spotless transcript. Now I realize I was worrying about the wrong “duty.” My duty to the world isn’t to be perfect. It is to take care of myself as best I can so I can give back to the world the love and care it has given to me. If slacking off was what I needed to make myself happy and available to help others, then this decision reflected no disrespect for my parents, for Harvard, or for my own work ethic.”

2. Perfection is subjective and abstract.

There is nothing wrong with having personal goals and wanting to achieve them. I try to achieve my personal best every day. With my career, my personal life – everything. Having goals is what guides my day-to-day living. On Sunday, I write out goals for the week and if I achieve them- to me that is rewarding. But this is MY personal best with which I connect with perfection, not yours. It becomes judgement when we start projecting our “strive for perfection” on others.


Perfection is subjective because with social media and just media in general, everyone can photograph and video their best foot forward – always.

Some blogs that i follow, you’d think they only live a life of crisply curated + snapped recipes and coiffed living rooms. They can build the perfect career and host the perfect dinner party – not a boring dinner party but a bollywood-themed movie night complete with belly dancers. To me, the takeaway is that they are PERFECT. and that un-truth can bring someone down. Ok, sometimes i’ve been brought down by it. Ok, sometimes I may contribute to it. <sigh>

3. Perfection is Unattainable.

You’ll never get there – ever. As a Christian, we believe that only Christ is perfect. Why oh why can’t i remember that?

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” Michael J. Fox

4. If you strive for only perfection, you may fly by the lessons that failure teaches us.

“Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen


%d bloggers like this: