Down with perfectionism

So pleased to hear someone come down hard on perfectionism. Being a perfectionist is one of those “weaknesses” that some people will proudly possess. “Oh I’m such a perfectionist! It’s such a burden to maintain such high standards”.

Who are you kidding?! Perfectionism is awful – it’s not a guarantee of high standards its a guarantee of unhealthy work practices.

Reading The Happiness Project today, I was delighted to read Oliver Burkeman take self-proclaimed perfectionists to task.

Q. What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
A. Among many, many other things: I no longer think of perfectionism as one of those traits you should be secretly quite proud to possess (“Oh, I’m a perfectionist, yes, I’m just not happy unless I’m producing brilliant work!”). Perfectionism is 100% bad and evil. As Anne Lamott says, it’s “the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people; it will keep you cramped and insane your whole life”. Working as a newspaper journalist on deadline has drummed much of it out of me — there’s nothing like a screaming editor to make you abandon all hope of a perfect opening sentence — but it’s an ongoing challenge. I guess I shouldn’t be perfectionistic about getting rid of perfectionism, though.


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