3 Ways to Stop Killing Yourself Due to Perfection Paralysis

3 Ways to Stop Killing Yourself Due to Perfection Paralysis

Fail to plan and plan to fail- very boring and uninspiring thought. I know of a friend who is planning to launch his new product for the last 3 years because he is obsessed with perfection.

Today, the cost of the project has gone up by 60 % and four new competitors have launched a similar product. The project has become a dead duck.

Perfect is Paralysis.

Trying to scale the zenith of perfection has become the plague of our time, and psychologists have recently coined the phrase ‘perfection paralysis’

10 signs to tell if you are a perfectionist!

  • You can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made.
  • You are intensely competitive and hate losing, even Monopoly or Scrabble.
  • You have to do things perfectly, or not at all.
  • You demand perfection from other people.
  • You won’t ask for help, as this can be seen as a flaw or weakness.
  • You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.
  • You are a fault-finder and go out of your way to correct other people when they are wrong.
  • You consider people with cluttered desks or houses as lazy and undisciplined.
  • You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.
  • You noticed the error in the title of this list (meant to be!) and it annoyed you (Sorry, but we had to check!).

At a certain point in time, we need to walk away and leap into the real world.

Nobody has bought anything looking at fancy diagrams and bar charts.
Trying to improve is a work in progress.

Nobody has ever launched a perfect product; be it be Nike or Apple or McDonald’s.
You will be shocked to see the first shoe sold by Nike.

The First version of Nike Shoes

The first version of Nike Shoes

Perfection paralysis is the fear of failing that can wreck our psyche and prevent us from forward movement. We are so scared that results won’t “WoW” anybody that we’re unable to even begin. It is like a rabbit that freezes in front of a car headlight. When it traps us, we end up stressed out—unable to harness our full potential and missing opportunities.

It’s a lose-lose game.

If the desire to be perfect is holding you back from experiencing something you want in life, consider taking these three simple steps.

1. Can we Prioritize our energy?

We need to get our perspective back and prioritize where we want to spend our energy.

One of my clients, a CEO of a consumer product company confided that he had an overwhelming list of the to-do list, both personally and professionally—but was finding it challenging to start on even one.

Since there wasn’t enough time to do each activity perfectly, he was paralyzed.

As we talked, he realized that he was weighing each task equally. Choosing the ideal birthday card for a weekend party seemed as important as a board meeting.

Now, he spends time on critical activities and prioritizes all the activities in terms of relative importance. Since everything is not a life and death issue- his life has become less stressed and more meaningful.

Take a global look at your list and your life. What matters most? Focus on critical. For the rest, let done be good enough.

2. Let just one thing be less than perfect

Problem is, for perfectionists, being “good enough” is tough.

Yes, you understand that perfection is an impossible task, still, you want to achieve it.
But can you change your mindset?

Can you take the challenge of not running after this unwinnable game of trying to be perfect and settle for being less than perfect?

I promise that life will be completely changed for you and you will start becoming more cheerful. Your productivity will improve by 5X.

This means that your report may not win a Pulitzer award. (your boss wouldn’t know the difference, anyway) Or you may have fast food instead of a 3-course meal. (your family will survive, I promise) Or dishes are not done before you retire for the day. (who cares ?)

Let’s talk about the sacrifice and the payoff. There are tremendous payoffs due to speed with minimum sacrifices. What one thing in your life can be good enough today?

3. Take the next best step

In a recent conversation with a corporate executive in Mumbai, I asked about her thoughts on living with perfectionism.

“We as perfectionists impose high standards and tremendous pressure on ourselves when our audience will never know what did not get done or may not appreciate the finer details, which we spend hours perfecting,” she said. “When we aren’t perfect, nobody cares—which is hard to understand, because we care so much.”

Being Perfect is impossible.


The less we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by impossible expectations, the faster we can move forward—and ultimately reach where we want to go. Without going for perfection-we get momentum and speed. And speed is the new Gold.

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