PVC Mental Strategy 31

The Perils of Perfectionism

“Striving for excellence feels wonderful because you’re trying your very best. Perfectionism feels awful because your work is somehow never quite good enough.”

Many swimmers I coach are proud to call themselves perfectionists. Sadly these same swimmers have cried themselves to sleep over a less than perfect test result or stressed themselves to the point of vomiting before a swim meet. But there’s a big difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism. One is an asset, and the other is a liability.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a perfectionist as a person who sets unrealistic demanding goals and regards their failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness. Sound like you?

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From now on, try impressing yourself and not others. Experts advise thinking of yourself as a high achiever where you try your best and expect success, but treat failures as learning opportunities rather than inferiority indicators. By aiming for high standards of excellence instead, you’ll stress less, feel much better about yourself, and succeed far more.