The Difference Between “Needing” and “Wanting”
As we discussed in previous blogs ("Why to Stop Needing and Start Wanting"), there is a big difference between needing and wanting. What do we need in life? The real necessities for survival are oxygen, water, and food- everything else are things that we want, but they aren’t true needs. So, do you need to be perfect? You might want to always submit high quality and correct work; however, perfection isn’t necessary for your survival. When we tell ourselves that we absolutely, 100% of the time, need to be perfect- we start to think that being perfect, being certain, or being right is an upmost necessity.
The problem? It is impossible to be perfect 100% of the time. Wanting is much more realistic, and flexible, because you recognize that as much as you WANT to be perfect, you don’t HAVE to! There aren’t any rules that say you HAVE to be perfect all of the time. Being perfect (or correct) 100% of the time is near impossible. Of course we can proofread e-mails and ask coworkers for their opinion on a presentation; but, you may put in a ton of effort and time, and your boss may still be unhappy with the final product. We can’t control our boss’s reactions when a mistake is made- all we can control is how we respond to the situation. A great work product may not always be perfect. Part of growing professionally is receiving feedback and continuing to evolve. Of course work is easier when mistakes aren’t made; but, mistakes and imperfection are inevitable. It can be helpful to keep this in mind when you’re starting to think about having to produce a perfect product. When you catch yourself demanding perfection, work to try and change those needs to wants.
There is a difference between working hard and placing unrealistic demands on yourself. For example, thinking that “I need this project to be perfect,” is great until the project isn’t perfect and your need isn’t met. As a result, you may feel overwhelmed and stressed because the thought, "I need this project to be perfect," isn’t consistent with the reality of the situation (that you weren't perfect). If you were to think instead, “As much as I want this project to go well, it’s impossible for it to be 100% perfect. I can’t read the client’s mind, and it’s possible that I could make a mistake. All I can do is focus on the resources that I have and do the best that I can in this moment,” you'd be much less stressed and overwhelmed if you were to make a mistake - AND we are much better at problem solving when we're feeling less overwhelmed and stressed. That being said, the goal isn’t to use this way of thinking to justify slacking off, or not putting in effort. The goal is to do your best work, think realistically about the final result, and use your time efficiently.
When we think more flexibly about perfection, we are better able to cope with situations when perfection doesn’t happen. By changing this need to a want, you’ll find that you are better able to manage your time effectively (which helps you to produce a higher quality of work), as well as recover more effectively from mistakes – which, if you think about it, are all outcomes perfectionistic behaviors are trying to accomplish!
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