Why perfectionism can kill success

Growing up I was told to do things perfectly: From small things like properly eating at a dinner table, to really small things like dropping parts of a Tetra pack into the right bin, and it was also the standard for grades in school, or for work around the apartment.

And oh boy, did it fuck me up.

Thinking of it now, I see this false work ethic as a root of many problems in my life. I struggle infamously with finishing projects, because I feel the state of the project is just not good enough to be finished. This is the hardest quest I have so far, and I had plenty in my years.

The bar is set too high

So why is it a false work ethic? Because it numbs you. You feel like you can never, ever achieve what you have in your mind, and it’s most likely true.

I dream of managing many careers at once, when in reality, I have none. The ideas are sparking like fireworks, I’m hyped up, I do the thing, and when it takes to long – as it always does – I struggle. And I know no one will accept what I have done so far. I can’t look at it. I shy away and look at the other cool thing that I could do…

Experienced dreamer

I see this mountain of work before me. Atop I can see the success, this cool thing that has been achieved. And then… I think… Shit! I need this item and this timeframe, that thing and more money and more time, and no, I can’t do this, I haven’t learned the skill to make that happen as I want to, so… I quit. Before I even started, really.

Failure after failure

And for sure, every project undertaken and incomplete leaves something missing inside. It’s like this friend you could have made, but before you get to know each other you step back in fear it could hurt. On the worst days, it’s like mental stillbirth and you are ashamed, because it’s all your fault. It’s you.


An obvious conclusion: if I would be better, I wouldn’t struggle as much. If I would have more discipline, talent, virtues… If I would be more, as a person.

Turning Tides

A couple of weeks ago I received from my dear friend poesielos a card that read:

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.

I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I did. A little. In my head. I see it every day, and there are days when I believe in it, but I’m still afraid of trying. Because failure was never an option for me. I feel like a small chick that desperately tries to break out of the shell, yet I fear of leaving my warm home behind. So all I get are cracks in my walls.

Although this seens utterly sad, I still have hope. I am trying, at least. And it’s my shell. It’s still a growth opportunity. And you never know how others perceive you.

Naturally, I am a very outgoing person. I like to meet new people, ask questions, tell jokes, I love to learn, to have conversation, to be empathic, hang out with friends and lose myself in deep conversation.

So people came up to me and said some very nice – for me surprising things – that got me a new perspective:

Someone is envious of me that I’m able to address my feelings openly. Someone thinks I’m wise. Someone thinks I’m entertaining because I have weird metaphors at times.

So you never know how you are preceived. It’s important to remind yourself that there is good in you. That it’s not about being perfect, but giving your best – without giving up yourself.



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