Losing

Why It’s Good That You’re Not Perfect

Why Its Good That Youre Not Perfect

Photo by Monica Galentino on Unsplash

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” — Brené Brown

 

It’s practically a universal fact that almost everyone wants to get ahead. If I’m being honest, I must confess that I do. Even though I’m no longer striving to achieve a lofty career goal at a large corporation, I still have goals and want to succeed at them. It’s just that striving for recognition, money and advancement is no longer at the top of my wish list. I used to want that more than anything. Now I prefer to live a life of abundance: of spirit, joy, surrounded by loving family and friends, healthy, content and curious, willing to go out of my way to help others, to rejoice in the goodness of others.

I also know that I’m not perfect. The fact that I can readily admit that alleviates a certain amount of tension.

Trying too hard to be perfect never gets you anywhere. I learned that a long time ago. Granted, you make mistakes. Everyone does. Some of mine have been colossal blunders, while others were the result of being too hasty or careless or skipping some steps in pursuit of a goal. After beating myself up about it, I finally figured out that such hyper self-criticism was a waste of time. It made more sense to determine the lesson from the failure, if for no other reason than to not repeat it again. But perfectionism, trying to be perfect? According to experts, that’s an impossibility and a losing strategy.

On the other hand, striving to do better is an effective approach. With a worthwhile goal providing motivation, healthy striving can lead to a richer and more fulfilling life. I’ve found that to be true with goals large and small, some more immediate and others requiring considerable time and effort to achieve.

Suppose you’re not very good at math and want to become more proficient. Or you want to train yourself to be better at differentiating differences and spotting changes, as in identifying what’s different in a field of changing icons and images in a brain teaser game online. With diligent practice and the belief that you can improve your skill, you do indeed get better. That’s not trying to be perfect but striving to improve. The former is a hopeless pursuit, the latter laudable and likely to succeed.

In an average day, most of us experience a few disappointments, make the wrong turn, put the wrong ingredient in a recipe, rush through a quiz and make a few mistakes, forget what we were going to say, say the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time. These are examples of what we’d consider a failure, blunder, mistake or stupid move. With the mindset that always demands perfectionism, we’re likely to continue to spiral down, never quite making the mark and sinking deeper into a less hopeful and more negative state of mind.

In contrast, by taking mistakes, disappointments and failures in stride and striving to do better, we’re bolstering our resilience, maintaining good balance and promoting a healthy way of living. Sure, it may take practice to overcome a tendency to get things right every time, as well as learning to ignore the comments from others about “Better luck next time.” This is especially true if perfectionism has become ingrained and those who know you expect you to be perfect all the time.

Having witnessed a few friends and acquaintances who’ve succumbed to the tantalizing and wrong siren song of perfectionism – and coming close myself on one or two occasions – I know that the preferred and much more effective and satisfying way to live is to engage in healthy pursuit of achievable goals.

If you tend to believe the same way I do, you’re not perfect – hooray! Neither am I, thankfully. Life is so much more enjoyable this way and that’s why it’s good that you’re not perfect. Keep in mind, though, that just because you’ve let go of pursuit of perfectionism does not mean you relinquish your goals. Adding incrementally to your strengths, skills and accomplishments boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem and intensifies your sense of purpose in life.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

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10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

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11 Ways to Cultivate Resilience

15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

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10 Ways to Win When You Lose

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Losing sucks, it’s true. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t speaking honestly – or else they’re engaging in self-delusion. No one likes to lose, whether it’s at a competition in sports, at work, in school or among friends. Failing to get the promotion you’ve worked hard for also hurts. But is there a way to turn losing around, to actually win again?

Here are 10 ways to help you learn how to win when you lose:

 

1. It’s not losing if you learn something.

 

If everybody loses at one time or another, the key is to profit from the experience. If all you do is grouse over your bad luck or just the wrong timing, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Figure out what went wrong and learn from it. As long as you come away with a better understanding of what caused this failure, you’re one step ahead when it comes to doing it better the next time. Already you’ve turned a loss into the first part of a win.

 

2. Losing can spur you to renew your commitment.

 

How much do you want to succeed at the action or endeavor you just failed at? With the right mindset – really wanting the successful outcome – you can rededicate yourself and renew your commitment to the goal. This is part of what it takes to develop a winning strategy and reinforce a winning mentality.

 

3. After you lose, call on your strengths.

 

Losing isn’t pleasant in the best of times. In the worst of times, losing can seem like the world is against you. Don’t fall prey to that self-defeating line of thinking. Instead, list your strengths and begin to make use of them. Some, no doubt, are strengths you haven’t used for a long time, maybe never. This is the time to call on your strengths, for they will help you reinvigorate your willingness to keep going, to challenge yourself to win again.

 

4. Remember you never give up.

 

This isn’t the first time you’ve been on the losing end of a situation. Even if this is your first recorded loss, the point is that you know it’s not in you to give up. Those little hurdles you put forth such effort to overcome and kept on going despite how tough it was? Those were little losses, but you remained steadfast and refused to give up. You will win again with this can-do attitude. Keep at it and you’ll be there at the finish line before you know it.

 

5. Competition makes you sharp.

 

If everyone had the same amount of talent and ability, the world would be a boring place. Thankfully, there’s competition. When you see what others do, especially when you’re engaged competitively in the same endeavor or pursuit, this tends to sharpen your skills, amplify your determination and motivation, and keeps you engaged. Do you want to succeed? Are you in it to win? Pay attention to your competition, even the competition you instill in yourself, and you’ll soon win again.

 

6. Once you’ve lost, you have greater compassion – because you know how it feels.

 

No one likes an arrogant winner. It takes humility – losing – to realize how it feels not to succeed. Since you have lost, you now know how the other person feels. This helps make you a better person, one with compassion and empathy. When you’re once again in the winner’s circle, this compassion will help keep your inflated ego at bay.

 

7. Look at the broader picture to gain perspective.

 

It may be tough to see much past the recent loss. Yet that’s exactly what you need to do after you lose. You’re never going to be motivated to continue if you can’t gain some perspective, to see the broader picture. Your world isn’t a narrow confine or a box you can’t get out of. It’s wide open and waiting for you to discover. This should be enough to inspire and motivate you to keep going, to recognize that this most recent loss is but one step along the path to success.

 

8. Realize that you’re already invested.

 

You’ve already put a great deal of effort into what just didn’t work out so well. In this, you’re already invested. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to profit from the effort you’ve already put forth and find new ways of approaching the task, project, pursuit or endeavor. Refresh your memory with what worked well before and modify or adapt those strategies and techniques to the task at hand.

 

9. Sharing experiences with your network can help you gain new insights.

 

Maybe what you need is a different set of eyes and ears. By sharing your experience – the recent loss – with your network, you might learn a few things that can help you get back to winning. Often it’s just this type of interpersonal communication, talking over what happened and listening to suggestions and techniques that worked for others is enough to get you back on track to winning again. That loss also won’t feel as painful when you listen to how others came back from losing.

 

10.Be sure to hold on to your dreams.

 

In the darkest times, what keeps us going are our dreams. Those long-held and dearly prized dreams are nature’s way of pushing us to keep going, especially when things look the least favorable. Maybe your dream takes a little longer to achieve or realize, but as long as you hold fast to it and take the small steps toward achieving it, you’re making progress. This is a sign that you’re a winner, even though you may have lost a thousand times before and likely will again. Hold fast to that dream and you will achieve it.

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