President Theodore Roosevelt once said “comparison is the thief of joy.” I realize now that comparison stems from perfectionism.
When I saw perfectionism compared to a disease, I practically jumped up and shouted “Hallelujah.” This and its vengeful companion, impostor syndrome, keep me up at night or pre-occupy my brain during the day.
Perfectionism keeps you from finishing the things you start. In fact, it keeps you from starting things at all.
Once you’re finally finished, perfectionism makes you less appreciative of your accomplishment. Your work could have been better.
Someone else could do it better.
You’re not as smart as you think you are. It’s debilitating.
Perfectionism means always being “less than.” You could win a Pulitzer Prize and still wonder why you hadn’t won it earlier. Or worrying about the next piece of literature before you can even celebrate the highest honor in writing.
Don’t get me started on comparison affects other people. The expectations you set for yourself end up spilling over into other areas of your life and other people. So now you’ve constantly set yourself up for constant disappointment in other people.
Experiences in your life are now “less than,” and that means having no joy or contentment in anything in your life. How is this helpful? This is the road to imperfection in every level of life. It’s the opposite of everything you’re trying to strive for in your life.
How to Break Away From Comparison
Now that we’ve gone over all of the reasons why you shouldn’t be a perfectionist, I’m sitting here biting my lip trying to think of ways to stop it. And I don’t have a lot of answers for this.
The phrase “progress over perfection” is indeed a great start. For instance, I advertised my podcast before I really felt “done” with it. I regretted it at first but it’s a work in progress. A WIP is a WIP is a WIP.
But it’s out there. And people like it. So in a sense, that’s “done.” This blog post was created months ago so I’m finally publishing it, even though it’s not “perfect.”
Perhaps constant validation is the answer but not in an annoying way. You can put something out there, getting feedback and revise versus just never publishing out of fear.
Something incomplete is not imperfection, just not quite ready.
You’ll begin to see what you do may never seem perfect but it can be good enough. In fact, it can be great.
And that’s the closest to perfect anyone can ever get.
How do you deal with perfectionism and comparison? Let me know in the comments.
Thank you for writing this blog post! At age 60, I can tell you that fighting perfectionism is a lifelong battle. The motto I live by is the title of a 2007 book by Susan Jeffers, PhD: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”
Wow! Thank you so much for your insight. I’ve heard great things a bit that book!
I this!!! Something incomplete is not imperfection, just not quite ready. Wonderful!!! This changes my focus.