Everywhere you look nowadays there is advice on how to strive, beat the competition, be happy, successful, wealthy, thin, married to your soul-mate, have perfect kids, balance work, and life, win the marathon and then come home and make the perfect dinner. In other words, how to be perfect or at least our early twenty-first-century concept of perfect. There are self-help books to improve every conceivable aspect of your life from your personality to your career.
But what if striving to be perfect is not the right goal? What if beating yourself up and scheduling and improving isn’t where you should be? Because becoming 'your best you' isn’t about being perfect (and is, in fact, a shortcut to disappointment at best and a breakdown at worst). Perfection is an illusion, and making it your life’s aim is a damaging mistake. The bottom line is–you will never be perfect. Imperfection is not only inevitable, but it's also okay. And it’s the thing that keeps us moving forward.
Perfection is a mirage, and if it's your goal, you are very likely to fall into the trap of carping on yourself when you don’t achieve it. You will have a skewed view of yourself by having the wrong expectations. The more you try, and fail, the worse your self-esteem will become. That is not a recipe for a happy life.
Be kind to yourself – if you’re constantly striving for perfection and criticizing yourself for not meeting those impossibly high standards, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable life because you can’t achieve the impossible goal of perfection.
Take a look around you – despite what you see on television and social media, no one is perfect. Ever. At no point in human history has anyone been perfect. People just do their best, most of the time.
Embrace your imperfection – it’s part of what makes you human and not a robot (and remember even robots can malfunction!) Imperfection makes you quirky and interesting and brave and admirable. What’s to admire in someone who gets a perfect score first time, compared to someone who worked hard, made mistakes, learned from them and got there in the end? Or didn’t, but gave it their best shot?
Trying to be perfect is choosing to suffer when you don’t need to. Trying to be your best self is a very different proposition. That’s likely to lead you down all sorts of interesting and fulfilling paths if you’re prepared to make mistakes along the way.