Welcome to the Thought Palace of Rahul Rajeev

No, Perfectionism isn't good for you

Writing Aug 20, 2021

The word perfect once used to be an outcome that was attainable. In a sense being perfect was not about being error-free, but delivering realistic outcomes.

But then the machines came and the meaning of the world slightly changed. To be perfect machines had to run error-free, systems had to be problem-free. Even though these were not possible this became the standard expectation.

Then we extended "perfection" to ourselves. We want to do everything perfectly. But what exactly does that mean?

Even if you were to make something perfect, there is no way ever that other people will find it perfect.

Perfectionism is a set of imaginary standards that we come up with. It has no real-world value. Make things that are good, not perfect. If you are chasing perfectionism then you end up chasing the non-existent.

There is another way to think about perfectionism. It is an excuse for us to hide behind from doing the work we should. It can be used to berate ourselves and not finish the latest writing project. It can be an excuse not to ship our work. Or a means to berate other's work!

Do you call yourself a perfectionist and delay your work? Then I would like to tell you that the only thing you have perfected is the act of hiding behind the impossible.

So no, perfectionism is not good for you. Aim at being good enough every day. Make a process for yourself. Iterate the process endlessly to jump from being good to great. Trust the process.


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