15 Brilliant Perfectionism Quotes That Just Aren’t Good Enough

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The perfectionism quotes in this article can’t be perfect, can they? I mean, if they were 100% perfect, why would I want to copy-edit the sh*t out of them?

So to zap you and me out of this imperfect state of mind I’ve compiled a list of 15 perfectionism quotes that could each be better just like this sentence could be better if it had any punctuation marks instead of spiraling out of control in true run-on sentence fashion but hey nobody’s perfect.

15 Perfectionism Quotes That Just Aren’t Good Enough

1) “I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

This is one of my favorite perfectionism quotes. It appears in “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert, who also wrote, “Eat, Pray, Love.” Check out the Ted Talk.

2) “Every time you say or think ‘I must do this perfectly,’ you are creating perfectionism.” – Louise Hay

The implied message in this perfectionism quote by the author of “You Can Heal Your Life” is that no one thing’s ever perfect. There’s always something more that could be done to improve it. It’s a liberating thought for those who go into hyperventilation mode when things don’t turn out perfectly. (I’m looking at you, Bridezillas.)

3) “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

Hark! Whoever said patron saints couldn’t come up with perfectionism quotes is wildly mistaken.

This one comes from Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment (whatever that means). I hope it inspires the armchair theologian in you to not be afraid of greatness.

4) “I’m a perfectionist, but my mom always told me: Perfect is the enemy of good.” – Rita Ora

G’ahead, Rita Ora, you British singer-songwriter, you. My mom also told me this. Naturally, I didn’t listen.

5) “If a perfectionist does a perfect job, they are often the most dangerous perfectionist of all perfectionism breeds perfectionism.” – Kelly McGonigal

This perfectionism quote comes from the author of “The Willpower Instinct.” The idea is that our efforts to achieve perfection are often motivated by perfectionism. So further success is likely to draw us into even more perfectionism.

Mindf*ck, amirite?

6) “Perfectionism is self-destructive because perfectionists never believe that they’re good enough.” – David D. Burns

Number six on the list of perfectionism quotes is by the author of “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.” It alludes to self-deprecating thoughts that arise when your “perfect” efforts fail to meet your perfect expectations.

7) “Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right and absolutely everything to do with getting it ‘perfect’.” – Mark Twain

Perfectionism quotes are far from perfect, even when they’re penned by one of the greatest American authors to have ever piloted a steamboat or mined for gold.

Is this some kind of weird reverse psychology, Mr. Mark Twain? Because if it is, I think it’s working.

8) “The difference between what something is and what it could be defines perfection.” – Bo Bennett

Right. Because when the thing that “could be” actually “becomes,” it’ll be quite something to behold. Except, if I’m following this perfectionism quote to the T, it means that this new “something” could be even better. It could be something more. It could be something beyond perfect. It could be perfect2.

Vicious cycle much?

9) “Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy achievement. It’s an unhealthy, paralyzing belief that perfection has to be achieved at all costs.” – Peter L. Bernstein

This is one of the most spot-on perfectionism quotes. Except it’s not really about striving for excellence. It’s more to do with striving for unrealistically high levels of success that are either unattainable or ruinous. For some people, this goal takes the form of perfectionism in the workplace. For others, it’s in their relationships outside of work.

10) “Because you are a perfectionist, you have to do everything perfectly or not at all.” – Susan Biali, M.D.

This perfectionism quote gets to the root of the problem with perfectionists: they’re beholden to their high standards, which are often completely unrealistic. This begets the all-or-nothing mentality that guides perfectionists into a stinky dumpster of Life poop.

11) “Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” – Alex Flom

Among the perfectionism quotes in this article, this one shows that striving for perfection can be an impediment. Trying to be perfect all the time keeps you from taking risks, seeking out new opportunities, and being open to new ideas. A better strategy would be to try the opposite. Be a little imperfect from time to time.

Go ahead. I dare you.

12) “Perfectionism isn’t about striving for excellence. Perfectionism is about avoiding disappointment.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber

Sh*t just got real.

This perfectionism quote by Nadia Bolz-Weber, who founded the aptly-named church “House for All Sinners and Saints,” where members of the LGBTQ community are welcome, touches on the core problem with perfectionism: It isn’t about giving your best and doing the best that you can. It’s about not wanting to feel like a failure in the eyes of others. But that lens can make things look very distorted indeed. As distorted as a gay church. 🌈

13) “Perfectionists live in a world of self-imposed pressure and stress. The irony is that perfectionism doesn’t make you better and it doesn’t make you happier.” – Jane Blundell

Good perfectionism quotes are unapologetically true like this one.

Jane Blundell, author of “The Joy of Doing Things Badly,” discusses a trait that is often seen as a virtue, but is ultimately self-defeating. Perfectionism is the reason why perfectionists suffer through imperfection and why their successes are invariably followed by a sense of relief rather than a sense of joy.

14) “Having unrealistic expectations of yourself is the core essence of perfectionism.” – Rick Carson

Of the perfectionism quotes that get to the heart of the problem, this is one of them.

It’s not about aiming high and doing your best. It’s about aiming high and then beating yourself up when you don’t quite reach that lofty goal. So here’s an idea: don’t beat yourself up. Instead, aim lower and join the “Good Enough Club.” We’re happy to have you.

15) “Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead.” – Cyril Connolly

The last of the perfectionism quotes by Cyril Connoly, a British literary critic and writer, points to perfectionism as a form of self-sabotage.

To avoid getting stuck in the rut of perfectionism, here’s some imperfect advice: The next time you find yourself stuck or paralyzed with fear because things aren’t picture-perfect, remember just one of the perfectionism quotes in this article.

But most importantly, remember that Good Enough is your BFF.

Be a true friend. Don’t bail.

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