In case you needed another reason to avoid perfectionism, this report notes that perfectionism can take a toll on your health.

The article states that perfectionism can have three possible manifestations:  (a) setting high standards for one’s self; (b) believing that society expects one to be perfect; and (c) placing high standards on others. Only the middle category, the article states, is hazardous to health.

That may be because the first and last categories do not describe perfectionism.  Those descriptions would constitute perfectionism only if the standards were unreasonably high (e.g., unachievable, or unachievable without giving up something of greater value), or if one were never satisfied with the effort or the results. This distinction is important.

Why? My point in criticizing perfectionism in this blog is not to dissuade people from having goals, indeed ambitious goals. Steady readers here know that I recommend goals as one of life’s best practices. I believe that we as humans too often leave potential gains unrealized. My argument is that we must be willing to make mistakes and risk failure. If we remain carefully within the safe region where we perform without the possibility of error (an area that is small no matter how gifted we are), we will undoubtedly miss opportunities for personal and professional growth.  Perfectionism undermines personal and professional satisfaction not just because it harms the health, but because it inhibits people from taking risks — and growing.  As Seth Godin noted in a post a couple of days ago, “perfect is overrated.”