Post Revisited: Are Perfectionists Ever Really Happy?

As I continue to work on some pitch stuff for work, I find myself fighting against the beast of perfection. Last year, I wrote about whether or not chasing perfection is a bad thing. I didn’t have an answer for it then. I don’t have an answer for it now. However,  I wonder how waiting for the right moment to execute has delayed or altogether blocked the complementary desire for happiness.


When you have a vision, you pour every ounce of yourself into the planning. Even before you commit to an action, you sit down and write a list. You may put it on a vision board. Personally, I write down quarterly plans. Once I’m clear on my vision, I write the steps I’ll have to take to get there in a concise way. For some people, they are regimented and will stick to that plan. The perfectionist within will have you looking at those steps with no shade of gray or contingency plan. But then life punches you in the mouth.

Perfectionists tend to lead unhealthy lives. There’s no sophisticated study to back that up, just basic observation. The culture of  “I can sleep when I’m dead” has permeated into Generation Y. Preventable diseases like high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetes are rising annually. Suicide was recently reported to be the third leading cause of death among black men under 30. The pressure of the chase combined with the fear of failure becomes a weight. We set such high standards and we impose a tiny margin of error on ourselves. If you let it, the “chase” can consume you to the point that when you hit the ground, you don’t bounce back.

Happiness is a decision. In order to maintain the state of happiness, you have to self-aware of your human limitations. There have been tons of success stories that tell the path of the person who gave up every worldly possession, lived on Ramen noodles and friends’ couches until they made it. I mean, America loves the struggle-rific “rags to riches” narratives. But that’s not everyone’s story. You’ll never be happy following someone else’s path to success.

I’ll use my path as an example:  I’ve been broke, but never poor. There’s a difference between the two. I’m fortunate enough that I attended and graduated from a solid university. All of my friends are college graduates. For us, basketball was our first step toward the “perfect” life. I personally sacrificed a lot to try to make it. I was obsessive about succeeding at being a ball player. I had told myself that if I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t do anything else. When I could see my plan crumbling, it was devastating. No matter how hard I trained or planned for it, that perfect path just wouldn’t stay straight. Thank God for common sense! I shifted my energy to something more attainable. I’ve actually had to do have this “a ha” moment a few times in my life. Whenever it happens, it’s always about me making the decision to stop thinking of success as a place, title, or another person.


Your vision of “the perfect life” won’t always come to fruition the way you see it in your head. We make excuses for why we can’t do something all the time because we’re waiting. When you spend so much time waiting for the perfect moment to do or say something, you lose time that might have held the very feeling you’re chasing. Don’t let the perfectionist in you be resistant to experience what happiness feels like.

Do you think being a perfectionist can hinder you from being happy? Are life’s “perfect” moments planned or do they just happen?

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