There is a narrative of toxic positivity around perfectionism. It isn’t enough to do something well; it must be done without flaw. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness, demotivation, and low self-esteem.
Recent research suggests striving for excellence instead of perfection can be more beneficial on a personal level and in achieving goals.
Being realistic, rather than perfect can help you set achievable goals. Humans cannot turn themselves into machines that can achieve unattainable standards. As children, we may have been pushed too hard and now we fail to consider that being excellent is better than being flawless.
Taking a step back from perfectionism allows us to strengthen our strategies and create healthier habits. Embracing a sense of realism and the ensuing expectations can help you reach healthier outcomes than continual focus on perfection.
When no thought or action is ever good enough, defeatism comes into play. The unrelenting pressure can lead to decreased performance and lower self-esteem. Its impact has been observed in numerous studies, such as the American Psychological Association Personality and Social Psychology, which showed that setting rigorous goals instead of aiming for perfection yields better outcomes.
Going hardcore for perfection leaves little room for creativity. Focusing on results and a rigorous process discourages experimentation, innovation and being open-minded. Creativity needs room to play and breathe. Expressing ideas freely without excessive self-criticism or the crushing pressure of “getting it right” produces tremendous success. Pushing past boundaries and exploring uncharted territory can give anyone a competitive advantage because their vision is singular.
Why excellence is better than perfectionism
Perfectionism can be both a blessing and a curse; it allows an individual to pursue exceptionally high goals. However, the standards it’s based around can sometimes be discouraging. The good news is you don’t have to accept perfectionism in your life as something that leaves you feeling drained and critical.
Downsides of perfectionism
Being a perfectionist can sometimes mean aiming for the impossible, ultimately leading to failure. Continually pursuing perfection could result in burnout, frustration, and anxiety. On the other hand, those who strive for excellence recognize that there are boundaries that define success and they are content to have achieved their goals.
Excellencism, the more achievable alternative to perfectionism, proves beneficial as it keeps motivation up and drives productivity. Research also shows that people who aim for excellence perform better than those striving for perfection, as they tend to stay focused on achieving their desired results without getting bogged down in details. Of course, there is a happy medium between aiming too low and attempting the impossible; pursuing excellence is about setting achievable goals and acknowledging when you have achieved them.
The difference between excellencism and perfectionism
Perfectionism is often misunderstood as being the same as striving for excellence. People who believe they will never meet their own standards are discouraged and overwhelmed. Perfectionism prevents us from achieving our goals by setting rigorous expectations that are far too difficult. Any setback that happens can feel disastrous when there is no room to pivot.
Excellencism is a more productive approach where we set realistic goals and assess our performance on those targets without feeling bogged down by unrealistic standards. This results in understanding the real potential and genuine achievement s that can be celebrated rather than waging an anxiety-filled, continual battle with perfectionism. Excellencism helps us to feel proud of our accomplishments and encourages us to continue fulfilling our potential with optimism and flexibility.
Benefits of excellencism
Those who strive for excellence manage tasks more efficiently than those prone to perfectionism. A study looked at college students with perfectionist tendencies and compared them with peers who were considered “high flexibility but well-performing.” Unexpectedly, it was found that the excellence mindset improved motivation while perfectionism hindered performance, disproving the assumption that there was no middle ground between the two extremes.
Perfectionists may be inclined to slip into panic mode with the introduction of a new term like excellence; their worries are unfounded. This concept is genuinely distinct in its positive encouragement and forward-thinking. Excellencism offers an uplifting outlook on goal setting without becoming overwhelming or psychologically taxing.
Setting standards for yourself and reaching them can be very empowering. When you let go of the perfectionism that results in never feeling good enough, you tend to see better outcomes and derive more motivation from your successes. You are able to recognize what you’re capable of and continue striving for higher goals accordingly. When things go worse than you’d like, beating yourself up doesn’t do any good.
Acknowledging any possible areas of improvement but accepting that setbacks are inevitable is far more productive than trying to achieve some unachievable level of perfection. As long as you keep your goals consistent but allow room for learning and growth, staying motivated on the journey to success is easy!
Focus on your individual successes and strengths; this will give you the confidence to seek new challenges with a positive attitude. It is also beneficial to accept that you are human and make mistakes. Don’t expect perfection from yourself because it’s an impossible goal. Remind yourself of your capabilities, set realistic goals and take time for self-care.
Set achievable milestones
Break larger goals into smaller and more attainable ones. When setting out to do something, making a concise list of objectives will provide a clear and achievable track to follow. After reaching these goals, recognize your successes and move on to the next project rather than fixating on perfection. The “excellence” approach allows you to set yourself up for success while avoiding unnecessary stress.