Everywhere you look nowadays there is advice on how to strive, beat the competition, be happy, successful, wealthy, thin, married to your soul-mate, have perfect kids, balance work, and life, win the marathon and then come home and make the perfect dinner. In other words, how to be perfect or at least our early twenty-first-century concept of perfect. There are self-help books to improve every conceivable aspect of your life from your personality to your career.

But what if striving to be perfect is not the right goal? What if beating yourself up and scheduling and improving isn’t where you should be? Because becoming ‘your best you’ isn’t about being perfect (and is, in fact, a shortcut to disappointment at best and a breakdown at worst).  Perfection is an illusion and making it your life’s aim is a damaging mistake. The bottom line is–you will never be perfect. Imperfection is not only inevitable, but it’s also okay. And it’s the thing that keeps us moving forward.

Perfection is a mirage, and if it’s your goal, you are very likely to fall into the trap of carping on yourself when you don’t achieve it. You will have a skewed view of yourself by having the wrong expectations and goals. The more you try, and fail, the worse your self-esteem will become. This is not a recipe for a happy life or contentment.

Developing a better sense of self-worth is an important aspect of embracing imperfection and fostering personal growth. Here are some strategies to help you cultivate a healthier sense of self-worth:

  1. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a close friend. Acknowledge that imperfections and mistakes are a natural part of being human. When faced with self-criticism, respond with self-compassion, emphasizing understanding, forgiveness, and learning from experiences. Look around you, despite what you see on television and social media, no one is perfect. Ever. At no point in human history has anyone been perfect. People just do their best, most of the time.
  2. Challenge negative self-talk: Be kind to yourself if you’re constantly striving for perfection and criticizing yourself for not meeting those impossibly high standards, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable life because you can’t achieve the impossible goal of perfection. Become aware of the negative thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself. Question their validity and replace them with more positive and realistic statements. For example, instead of saying, “I’m a failure,” reframe it as, “I made a mistake, but I can learn from it and do better next time.”
  3. Celebrate your strengths and achievements: Focus on your positive qualities, skills, and accomplishments. Recognize and appreciate your strengths, no matter how small they may seem. Keep a journal where you write down your achievements and the things you are proud of to remind yourself of your worth.
  4. Set realistic expectations: Avoid setting excessively high standards for yourself, as they can lead to constant disappointment and self-criticism. Instead, set realistic goals that are attainable and aligned with your abilities and values. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable steps to boost your confidence as you achieve them.
  5. Surround yourself with positive influences: Surround yourself with people who appreciate and value you for who you are. Seek out supportive friends, family members, or mentors who encourage your personal growth and provide constructive feedback. Limit your exposure to individuals who consistently bring you down or undermine your self-worth.
  6. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Prioritize self-care practices such as regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, relaxation techniques, and hobbies that bring you joy and fulfillment. Taking care of yourself demonstrates self-worth and reinforces positive feelings about yourself.
  7. Embrace imperfections as opportunities for growth: Instead of viewing mistakes and imperfections as failures, see them as opportunities for learning and growth. Embrace the process of self-improvement and understand that making mistakes is a natural part of it. Learn from setbacks and use them as stepping stones toward personal development.

Embrace them it’s part of what makes you human and not a robot (and remember even robots can malfunction!) Imperfection makes you quirky and interesting and brave and admirable. What’s to admire in someone who gets a perfect score first time, compared to someone who worked hard, made mistakes, learned from them and got there in the end? Or didn’t, but gave it their best shot?

Remember, developing a better sense of self-worth is a journey that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and practice these strategies consistently. Over time, you can cultivate a more positive and compassionate relationship with yourself, embracing your imperfections while recognizing your inherent worth.

Trying to be perfect is choosing to suffer when you don’t need to. Trying to be your best self is a very different proposition. That’s likely to lead you down all sorts of interesting and fulfilling paths if you’re prepared to make mistakes along the way.

If you struggle with contentment, mindfulness, etc. in your own life, maybe you should consider finding someone to confide in and share with.  One of the biggest faults we have in the audit and investigation business is we often operate in a vacuum.  The past several years and COVID has exacerbated this as well, causing us not to have mentors and colleagues to bounce feelings and concepts off.  We are not created to operate this way and research clearly shows that we are much more effective when we collaborate.  

When it comes to finding contentment have you considered whether you consistently seek to find it.  Or do you care about this enough (see a few weeks’ past blog on having passion)?  Do you plan for opportunities to find mindfulness and contentment?  If not, why not? 

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom-tailor training to your specific needs.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above issues of mindfulness and contentment, please reach out.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing, auditing, and investigations can be found in other blogs and videos that we have produced and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions, comments, or have an interviewing topic you would like me to address, give me a shout.  In the meantime, be well, stay safe out there, and find a way to find contentment….it will make all aspects of your life better.

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

114 Loucks Avenue

Scottdale, PA 15683