Less Than Perfect is Perfectly OK

I am a runner. I am competitive. I especially enjoy running outside on a nice day, feeling the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, and hearing the sound of my running shoes on the pavement. Once I know what distance I’m capable of running, I push myself to improve my time. I start thinking, how can I improve my stride? My pace? My breathing and posture? For me, it’s a challenge of setting a new personal record. Then, I think to myself, wait a minute ….

Like me and running, do you find yourself striving for perfection in the day-to-day activities of your job and in life? It takes a lot of energy and effort. And when it comes down to the bottom line, all you’re really doing is striving to get somewhere you think you should be. Perfection is hard to achieve because it’s nearly impossible to obtain. But what you probably achieve in the process is a lot of stress, feelings of unmet expectations and failure, and a wandering mind that can’t stop thinking of things that went wrong or what you could have done differently.

Being less than perfect is OK. You’re only human and can only do so much. Sometimes it’s not about being the best, but learning and developing your skills to help you become better. So, the next time you feel yourself sweating the small stuff in an attempt to be the best of the best at your job, try following these tips.

Discover what you love. Find what it is that brings you joy. When you have a passion for something, you will find that you don’t have to work so hard to get things accomplished. You will be more of a natural at it, not needing to put so much effort into becoming the best.   

Learn from your mistakes – and move on. Everyone makes mistakes. But the grand thing is, life goes on. So, learn something from the situation and become better because of it. Don’t dwell on what you did wrong because you’ll spend so much time in the past that you’ll miss out on the present.

Set limits for yourself. Attempting to achieve perfection can be a time waster. Be realistic in the goals you set. Along with your manager, create deadlines for your projects. Knowing when things are due will help you adjust your schedule accordingly to get things done. Also, here are a few tips to help you finish your work week strong.

Seek out experts in your field. Is there someone in your field that would be a great source for ideas and brainstorming? When you have someone to help you talk out a project, you will find that it goes a lot smoother than trying to do all of it by yourself. Seek input – it’s not a bad thing to have some help along the way.

Take a break. At the end of the day, shut everything down and go home. Learn to leave work at work so you’re not tempted to tweak things on a project when you go home. Use that time to pursue other interests that make you happy.
Achieving the perfect run would involve a lot of time – cross training, eating healthy all the time, getting at least eight hours of sleep each night, correct warm-ups and cool-downs, stretching, etc. Being focused on this ALL the time would not make running the break I need and enjoy now. So, instead, I’m just going to enjoy the moment and take in the sights along the way.


  1. Marsha

    Thank you for your comparison of being a perfectionist to being a runner; it was a good one. I am a perfectionist who took many years to get to the prevailing thoughts here. Not being perfect is OK. I am an administrative assistant who is tasked with assisting a perfectionist. Helping this type of person almost caused me to lose my joy for assisting because I was so resolved to get all that they asked for, no matter who I had to reach out to for it. That put a lot of pressure on me, took a lot of time out of my day and caused me to bruise some relationships that I had built. In the end, it was not worth it. I found it better to ask, when I’m given assignments, which items are a “must have” and which are a “nice to have.” When I first asked that question, my executive raised an eyebrow in astonishment and said, “It’s all necessary.” I explained that I wished the list to be prioritized, which would help me work it through appropriately and learn his or her style, likes, and dislikes. I was always accommodated with little added push back. Asking that one little question helped me know my executive better and accomplish more “A” work more often, which gave me back my love for assisting busy people – rather like gaining the sheer enjoyment of the run.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *