Striving for Perfection is the Dumbest Idea


Many people set certain goals in life because they feel they have to – to look a certain way, to weigh a certain weight, etc. This expectation setting is adopted when they set health goals as well. Because these people are striving for perfection instead of excellence, the results aren’t usually pretty. 

Let’s take weight loss as an example.

Some people obsess with their weight, and they put themselves through an emotional roller coaster when they set a goal to lose X number of lbs. When they step on the scale and see their weight drop, they get super excited. OOOH YEAH! But they FREAK OUT when the same scale shows their weight went up a couple of days later. This type of “High and Low” can cause serious depression and really set people back.

why do i bother to be perfect

The truth is, awesomeness is something that’s cultivated from within. Most people think it’s something external that they have to strive for. They think awesomeness is at the top of the mountain, when, really, it’s the self-determination and hard work.

To achieve awesomeness, your goal needs to be internally motivated.


What does this even mean? Let’s first talk about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Simply put, intrinsic motivation comes from internal factors, where extrinsic motivation is driven by external ones. Intrinsic motivation is all about excellence, where extrinsic motivation is about perfection.


So how is excellence different to perfection?

With perfection, everything must be perfect at all times. Duh. If it’s not, then…well, it’s not perfection, is it? There’s no margin for error. With excellence, you understand that failure and mistakes are a part of Life, and when they happen, you accept them and learn from them. 

The mistake many people make in life is that they try to achieve perfection instead of being happy with excellence. This is what I like to call the “Ricky Bobby” approach to life. 

reese bobby telling you about excellence

(Does this guy look like someone to take life lessons from?)


Here’s the problem with perfection – NO ONE is perfect! Aiming for perfection means setting unrealistic goals and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to achieve them. And unless you do, you’re never satisfied – you’re NEVER happy. With excellence in mind, your motivation arises from within rather than out of a desire to gain some type of external reward such as prizes, money or acclaim.

Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Pretend you’re an Olympic athlete. If you’re “externally” motivated, you’re driven by the symbol of perfection – to win a Gold medal. If you don’t win it, then it’s all for nothing. You FAILED – even if you win silver and break your own personal record. Nothing matters other than that Gold medal.

If you’re “internally” motivated, you’re driven by the goal of doing your best  – of excellence. Though winning the Gold is on your mind, you’re focused on being excellent at what you do. If you concentrate on doing your best, then everything else will take care of itself. Medaling is a bonus, not the reward.

Here’s a real life example of this, (and the inspiration for this post) – Ronda Rousey.

Ronda Rousey on the Ellen Show

Ronda is the former bantamweight UFC champion and Olympic bronze medalist in judo. She recently lost her belt to Holly Holms, and needless to say, Ronda wasn’t happy about. it.  She appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and said:

“What am I anymore if I’m not this? Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s— about me anymore without this.'”

Here is this multi-talented, successful, loved athlete considering suicide because she has defined her life by being a champion – by being perfect in the eyes of so many. And sure, I get it. I’d be devastated too if I were her having lost to Holly in such a convincing manner. She’s an athlete, so she’s bound to be uber competitive. But this is an example where an obsession with perfection can lead to a downward spiral. Her focus was to be the champion for all her fans. Her focus should’ve been being as prepared as possible to follow the game plan her team put together to get her the win.

This makes sense, right?

Of course, this isn’t to say that being intrinsically motivated doesn’t have it’s “gold medals”. Instead of prizes, money, recognition, etc., the reward is the personal satisfaction and joy you feel inside. And the best part is – you can experience this without anyone else judging you (not even a little bit).


Avoid making this common habit mistake – focus on excellence, not perfection. This focus is a key to your success and happiness. You have to be willing to commit and not waver to your internal motivation. Do you have what it takes? Can you focus long enough to achieve your goals?

So what drives you to strive for excellence? What are you passionate about? Think about it. Make that decision and your life will become much clearer.

Visualize it. Focus on it. If you don’t visualize the results you want to achieve, then you are less likely to achieve what you desire. BUT make sure your results come from a place inside. DON’T chase external results. You don’t need the approval of others. Comparing yourself to others serves only to demoralize and make you feel inferior. Don’t look around and think you aren’t good enough compared to other people. Because. You. Are.

You’re one of a kind, and you have your own unique goals of excellence.

Don’t try to achieve someone else’s success. Work on your own. Click To Tweet

Think of it as running a marathon. It doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last, no one cannot take away what you accomplish. And if you’re ever in doubt or you don’t feel like you’re strong enough, just look down at your feet and see how far they’ve taken you. And hold on tight because they’re going to take you even farther if you’re striving for EXCELLENCE! 

Have you struggled with setting goals of perfection instead of excellence? Tell us about it below.

Thanks for Reading!

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