I am not sure whether I do perfect things or not, but I always strive to be perfect.
When I enquired with a psychiatrist friend of mine about this strange habit, she assured me that I am not alone. There are many people in this world who always aim for the perfect. For example, Aamir Khan is a famous perfectionist. It is said that he thinks and over-thinks on every shot for hours before he is fully satisfied and content. Well, he is a super star and he can afford such luxuries.
But for me, this strange habit of making everything ‘perfect’ has actually brought down my productivity to several levels below my expectations. I stupidly waste time on non-trivial matters, as I always want to finish off ‘perfect’. Great bull shit!
I have come to know that I can never be perfect. In fact, statistically and practically, no job can be ever done perfectly: Pick any existing website on this Earth. Do you think it can’t be made better? Pick any bestselling book. Do you really think that it is the perfect book ever written?
The word ‘perfect’ is a kind of hallucination which deceives people like us.
Once and for all, I have decided to kill this habit. And this post on Rodinhood shall be the starting point of this mission.
First, let us find out if you are a perfectionist or not. Below are few scenarios, which you can identify yourself with.
- Either you love black or white. There is no grey element in your life.
- You are highly conscious of your surroundings. You have an eye for details.
- Even if a task is completely new, you will always try to be best in that.
- You will keep on working on a task till the last hour; even if it means sacrificing your sleep/food/movie.
- Either you achieve it or abandon it. If you get a faintest of idea that a task which you are doing will not be completed in perfection, you will abandon it.
- You have a strong desire to control things. You will think and over-think, if God forbid, a task didn’t materialize the way you thought.
- Your only point of focus is the end goal. Whatever happens in between isn’t important to you. (That is really bad. The journey is the fun, not the destination!)
- You are a harsh critic – of your own work as well as of those whom you love.
There are several disadvantages of being a perfectionist. And one of the most cruel of them is that, you over think and don’t act. For example, ever since I entered Online Marketing niche (last 3 years), I wanted to write a book about the subject. I collected books about the subject, saved articles from famous Online Marketers, thought about the title, made the outline and so on. But have I written the book? Nope. I am still waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to start it, and the ‘perfect’ time to launch it. In a way, I am stuck in an infinite loop.
Here are some of the major disadvantages of perfectionism:
- Procrastination: We procrastinate things as we wait for the perfect moment to make it happen. As I thought deeper into the reasons about not writing the book, I realized that I have everything which is needed to write the damn book. I am working in this industry, I can write, I can think and I have written books for others. But when it comes to writing book for my own self, I am procrastinating things. I want it to be perfect, and hence, still waiting for that imaginary ‘perfect’ moment. And this perfectionism actually intimidates us. Seemingly simple things become devil like big and our mind responds by procrastination.
- Less Effective: With this obsession about being perfect, we slowly become less effective. For example, say I am required to prepare a presentation for our new client. To make it a perfect presentation which can win a Booker equivalent prize, I will add unnecessary texts and images into it. I shall ponder over each and every slide for hours and wait until the last hour to deliver it. In the quest to make it perfect, I will make it less effective. Or, for that matter, a new blog. I may add totally irrelevant and unnecessary widgets and sections into the blog as I will spend hours and hours into the design and conception of the blog. In short, every activity can become less effective if drive by the desire to make it perfect.
- Fear of Failure: Well, for every entrepreneur, this is the biggest fear of all the fears: The fear of failure. And this fear directly comes up from the habit of being perfect. My entrepreneurial dream is being postponed because of this very reason. I am terribly afraid of being a failure! I am anticipating problems and issues even before they are born. “What if this happens?” “What if that doesn’t happen?” “What if I fail?” I have even devised solutions for some of these invisible problems and issues. Generally, people who are afraid of failure waste an incredible amount of time in delaying things, just because they want each and every thing to be perfect. Now, I have started to believe in Richard Branson’s famous line to overcome this fear: “Screw it, let’s do it!”
Perfectionism is not the problem over here. The problem lies in obsession with this perfectionism. Actually, this habit of being perfect is good for mankind. Once our mind is geared towards becoming perfect, we continue to refine our efforts. But at the same time, if obsession takes over, then it can delay things and keep us in an infinite loop.
I think that this habit of being perfect should be mastered and controlled so that we can aim for higher standards and better results. But how can we control this habit? I have honestly no answers.
you are bang on! this is a great read (especially the disadvantages!)
btw... before approving i changed your point size to 3 (12 points) - because that's how we like it! don't know about perfection - but i pretty much think i've got OCD when it comes to editing!!!
"You are a harsh critic – of your own work as well as of those whom you love." - is so so so true!
keep rocking mohul. you've got a good thing going!
p.s: i think the headline is 'perfect' - 'coz it is a curse!
Thanks Asha! Size 3 is just 'perfect' :)
This is one well documented post..
I am sure that many Entrepreneurs, who have an eye for Detail and who have suffered at the hands of Perfection, will be able to relate with this post..
I personally believe in striking a correct balance between the Desire for Perfection and Respect for Limitations.. That said, the balance can even be tipped at 70:30 instead of 50:50, depending on case to case..
There is no particular method of Drawing a Line, or knowing that you are indeed In-Control..
The only way according to me, is to follow ones' Inner Voice.. Present the dilemma to the Almighty within and you would know when to Stop, Pause or Play.. ;)
Only one thing is constant and that is change.. so when ever change happens, perfection also changes. so we keep on changing with time and changing with perfection .. Thanks for writing up
yup very true indeed.. thanks for your comment!
Thanks for writing and sharing this. Now I know that I'm not the only one. :-)
There must be a name for this psychological phenomenon, that you feel better when in knowing that there are others suffering from the same thing.
Keep writing brother, you are good at it.
@vineetness on twitter
@mohul A great read indeed.
Thanks for writing this, atleast it means that I am not the only one of an extinct breed. :-)
I am not much of a writer but feel free to connect in case I can help.
hey Mohul i must say this is a 'perfect' article. On a serious note, I can relate to the disadvantages of procrastination and being effective. I would like to add something here. When a person is looking for perfection, he/she is put off by the mediocre work done by his/her colleagues. THIS I feel is one of the major reasons for being an entrepreneur.
Also I would like to add that there is no need to control perfection. Anything when observed over a period of time will always have a chance and need for improvement from the eye of a perfectionist. That is why when we look at the previous models of say electronic gadgets, clothes, our pictures, we kind of find them to be lame. But the truth is that they have just gone through EVOLUTION; and i feel that the need for perfection is just that. WHEN WE TRY TO PERFECT THE THING WE ARE DOING, ALL WE ARE DOING IS EVOLVING. we just need to draw a line as to what level we want the perfection.
If Apple comes out with an iphone having specifications of 3 ghz processor and then decides that it can be improved, and that it should delay the launch; it will never come out with a phone. Instead they come out with a phone and then try to perfect it or improve it and then launch the better one some time later.
To summarize all this in one line - we should draw the line at perfecting something depending on the purpose and surrounding environment.
Ps. the example may be confusing. hope you get the point.