The Imperfection of Perfectionism

Have you ever heard someone describe oneself as a perfectionist? It’s a term that is used by individuals who want to be known as ‘someone who is meticulous’, ‘someone who is in control and aware of everything’. The desire to define and deliver perfection is a noble goal, but it is rarely delivered. Perfectionism can be a negative trait associated with adults living with ADHD. The pursuit of perfection for these individuals is more about avoiding ‘finishing something’ rather than creating something that is perfect. That is not to say that perfectionism is wrong or bad, it is however important to know where perfectionism fits in.


Does it Need to Be Perfect?

I ask myself this question when I feel that I am spending too much time on details that may not be important, asking the question, “Does it need to be perfect?”, That’s a great way to reset behaviors and look at what is needed. To get in the habit of asking this question, take a moment and think of past situations where perfectionism prevented you from completing a project or severely slowed down the completion of the project. Replay these events and define what would’ve been considering a good result without becoming obsessed with trying to achieve perfection. Also, define those points during the process, when you had become overly obsessed with perfectionism. This will help you recognize yourself when you move into the state of perfectionism.

Perfection versus Excellence

If you can learn the difference between these two words, in those areas of your life where perfectionism is a problem, you will save yourself a ton of headaches, and release new level of productivity. Excellence is a very good substitute for perfection and you should be aware of the difference. It is important to note that excellence is not a shortcut or a substitute for perfection, it is an understanding of what the standard is and what it takes to meet or exceed that standard. Perfection, on the other hand, is the addition made to that standard, that may not impact the end result. So having the ability to understand the difference between perfection and excellence can help you deliver on time or early. It can also help you to maintain consistency.

When should you be a perfectionist?

I cannot stress how important it is to understand that this article is not about bunking away from being a perfectionist. It really is about knowing when you should apply the thought process of a perfectionist. So, if you would describe yourself as a perfectionist, determine when and where you should use this skill and learn how to turn it on or off. It should be a strategy that you are able to use when it is necessary and not all the time. Perfectionism is nothing more than a tool in your arsenal, thinking of it in this way will help you understand it’s power and how it should be used to help you move forward.