Do you refuse to leave your house without mascara? Does the thought of an error on an expense report keep you up at night?
If you are tossing and turning over tens of thousands of dollars, it’s one thing. However, you might be one of many who grapple with stress brought on by unrealistic expectations. Here’s how the idea of perfection could be weighing you down without you knowing it, along with some tips for finding a healthier sense of priority.
The Weight of Unrealistic Expectations
If your pet Schnauzer pulls down your holiday tree, you get to decide if it’s a disaster or a hilarious memory you’ll chuckle at through the years. Too often, the weight of unrealistic expectations makes you overlook the best way to relieve stress — laughter.
Unfortunately, society often contributes to unrealistic expectations. For example, while one-quarter of men and 87% of women say they prefer straight teeth, only the most fortunate Americans can afford quality dental care, let alone orthodontics. The consequences often create a perpetual poverty cycle — those who are missing teeth may struggle to gain the very employment they need to have their smile repaired.
Other times, though, you might create a crisis where none exists. What’s worse? Failing to make a token appearance at your office holiday party or showing up with a chipped manicure?
When asked objectively, most people would say you should attend even with imperfect fingernails. But perfectionism whispers, “everyone will notice.” In your embarrassment over a minor detail that no one but a bonafide mean girl would mention, you draw more attention to yourself by hiding your hands behind your back instead of shaking the proffered paw of the department head where you wish to transfer.
Perfectionism can paralyze progress. If you have a business you want to launch, get started on it today. If you study entrepreneurs, you’ll learn you should be embarrassed by your initial product or offering — but you’ll never nurture a gorgeous rose bush to perfection if you don’t first plant that seed.
Reasons to Embrace Imperfection
Embracing imperfection is, frankly, pretty awesome and liberating. If you aren’t convinced yet that letting go of your need for perfection can make your life better, here are five ways it will revolutionize your existence.
1. It Makes You Human
People don’t like superheroes outside of comic books. If you look at the stories of the folks people admire most, you’ll see nearly all share the trait of overcoming terrible odds.
What sets them apart? They kept going even when things got messy or downright mortifying. You can do the same when you let go of perfection. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a failure — only human.
Other people will relate to your humanity. Learning to take ownership of your mistakes instead of brushing them under the perfectionist rug will make you more powerful and showcase your leadership potential.