What's wrong with being perfect?

After all, who doesn't love submitting a work project with zero mistakes, or a meticulously organized office space? Who doesn't aim for perfection?

Although the idea of perfect anything sounds like the ultimate goal, in reality, striving for perfection may be negatively affecting your life. In many ways, it can even be holding you back and changing how you see yourself and the world.

For example, with your sights set on perfection, you may think in black and white, or in all-or-nothing terms. Things are either good or bad, right or wrong. Naturally, this way of thinking can lead to a very stressful life, because there are no gray areas in situations -- just perfect events or full-on disasters.

Even further, as you strive for excellence, you can actually start to think less of yourself. Your self-confidence becomes heavily dependent on how much and what you accomplish, and you may pay close attention to how other people react to you and your achievements.

When validation from others is needed in order for you to feel good about what you do, you decrease the importance of validation you could be receiving from yourself. When you depend on the opinions of others more than your own thoughts, you think of yourself as the lesser, as the person with reduced value.

Even further, you might not even grant yourself the chance to raise your self-worth: perfectionists, once achieving something, often quickly move on to the next goal. Ambitious perfectionists hope to succeed often, and in a short amount of time -- and if you don't slow down to appreciate your own hard work, you may never see how successful you already are.

Unfortunately, this excessive desire to compete with others and succeed might not be going anywhere anytime soon.

One 2018 study found that more recent generations of college students reported significantly higher scores for different forms of perfectionism than earlier generations. And, says researchers, this increase may in part be tied to higher reported levels of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, in comparison to a decade ago.

So it is critically important that we realize now how perfectionism impacts us. Not only does it limit your personal growth and obstruct your self-worth, but it can affect your mental health, too. 

If you think a successful life is a perfect life, consider instead the idea that perfectionism can actually lead you away from the very same success you're after.