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Discover Why Being Conscientious is Better than Perfection


I have never met a perfect person. Furthermore, I have never experienced a perfect vacation or had a perfect job. In fact, I’m not so sure that anything in this life is perfect, to be honest. That does not imply, however, that I have never met an exceptional person, had a wonderful vacation, or been in a fulfilling line of work. Overall, despite its imperfections, life can be rewarding.

If the previous statements hold true, not just for me but for others as well, why do so many strive for perfection? Is it possible that the majority of us are simply off-target? Moreover, when it comes to the success of your business, does that mean it has to be flawless?

I believe the majority of people would agree and answer “no” to the previous two questions. But what should you aim for as a sole proprietor if you don’t pursue perfection? I believe that striving for perfection is unhealthy; instead, you should aim to do your best while progressing. In other words, you and your company are diligent. Let’s look at perfectionism more closely and compare it to conscientiousness.

Perfectionist Person vs Conscientious Person

A Perfectionist

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that perfect means “having no flaws or mistakes at all: being faultless. “A perfectionist is therefore someone who has a strong need for things to be faultless or perfect.

Perfectionism is frequently seen as a virtue rather than a flaw. Some even go so far as to claim that there can be “”healthy perfectionism’ to describe or justify perfectionistic behavior.”

But author and researcher Brene Brown makes a distinction between perfectionism and constructive behavior. She says perfectionism “‘is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth.’ She explains that perfectionism is used by many people as a shield to protect against the pain of blame, judgment, or shame.”

Being a perfectionist can cause stress, anxiety, procrastination, burnout, unrealistic expectations, and unhappiness. It makes sense that perfectionism could be a barrier to success for a sole proprietor.

Characteristics of a Perfectionist

One can find a lot of articles online to learn about the traits of perfectionists. An overview of five traits is as follows:

  1. Sets very high standards: Perfectionists set very high standards for themselves. They strive for excellence in everything they do.
  2. Is highly critical of their own work: They are highly critical of their own work. They may spend a lot of time reviewing and revising it to ensure that it meets their high standards.
  3. Struggles with delegation: Perfectionists may struggle with delegating tasks to others. This is a result of believing that they are the only ones who can do the work to the required standard.
  4. Can be overly self-critical: They may engage in negative self-talk and be overly self-critical. This can have a negative impact on their mental health and self-esteem.
  5. Has a fear of failure: Perfectionists have a fear of failure. As a result, they may avoid taking risks or trying new things. They fear of not being able to achieve their desired level of perfection.

The Impact of Perfectionism on Your Business

Clearly, if one is a perfectionist, there is going to be fallout. Their wellbeing is impacted, as was already mentioned. Perfectionism can also have negative effects on a company’s bottom line. Celinne da Costa describes the following 3 effects of perfectionism on your business in her article, “3 Ways Perfectionism Kills Your Business (and How to Overcome It).”

  • Inhibits productivity.
  • Puts too much on your plate.
  • Prevents necessary growth.

Therefore, it is essential to strive to be conscientious rather than perfect.

A Conscientious Person

The Oxford English Dictionary defines conscientious as “(of a person) wishing to do what is right, especially to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.” So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Someone who takes their duties and responsibilities seriously will be careful, thorough, and hardworking when they do them.

Overall, conscientiousness is a positive trait and leads to psychological well-being. However, people who are overly conscientious “can become too serious. Therefore, they may need some help lightening up and having fun. A highly conscientious person can also become overly rigid or inflexible. As a result, they struggle to be spontaneous.”

However, while being overly conscientious is not recommended, multiple “studies have shown that being conscientious is associated with better health.” Furthermore, according to Sherri Gordon’s article “What is Consciousness?” a person who is conscientious is likely to have a higher income. They will also experience more job satisfaction.

Characteristics of a Conscientious Person

Again, to learn what it means to be a conscientious person, you can find numerous articles online. As with the perfectionist, a conscientious person exhibits numerous traits. Below is a list of five common traits:

  1. Takes responsibility seriously: Conscious people take their responsibilities seriously and commit to fulfilling their obligations to the best of their abilities.
  2. Pays close attention to details: They are thorough and meticulous in their work, focusing on details and ensuring that everything is done accurately.
  3. Is reliable and dependable: Conscientious people are reliable and dependable, and others can count on them to follow through on their commitments.
  4. Demonstrates good organization: They tend to be well-organized, with good time management skills and a clear sense of priorities.
  5. Persists and stays determined: conscientious people persist and remain determined, and they don’t give up easily. They are willing to put in the effort required to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles along the way.

Clearly, as a sole proprietor, you will want to strive to be conscientious, not perfectionistic.

The Impact of Being Conscientiousness on Your Business

A sole proprietor who exhibits the previous characteristics can have a significant positive impact on their business.

  • Characteristic 1 & 3: Dedicated to meeting commitments and supplying high-quality goods or service.
    Result: Customer trust and repeat business.
  • Characteristic 2: Thoroughness and attention to detail.
    Result: Production of high-quality goods and services. Also, clients expectations are met or exceeded.
  • Characteristic 4: Well organized
    Result: Increase in productivity, and smooth running company.
  • Characteristic 5: Perseverance and Tenacity
  • Result: Solid, resilient company which can withstand setbacks. Likely keep expanding.

Overcoming Perfectionistic Tendencies

It is one thing to understand that being conscientious far outweighs being a perfectionist. Yet, if you are a perfectionist or have perfectionistic tendencies, it can be quite challenging to overcome. Let’s face it, you may have been a perfectionist up until this point. Change will not happen overnight. However, there is hope.

Recently, I wrote a blog in which I stated that the best way to effect long-term change is by making frequent, slow, incremental adjustments. In other words, take the challenge one step at a time. Let’s take a look at each of those steps.

Steps to Change

Step 1: Recognize that perfectionism is a problem. Recognize that perfectionism is causing problems in your business. Accepting that you have a problem is the first step to addressing it. Celinne Da Costa, who was a recovering perfectionist, writes that “when perfectionism is left unchecked, it inevitably morphs into a paralyzing and destructive force.” Accepting that you have a problem is the first step to addressing it.

Step 2: Set realistic goals. Perfectionists often set themselves unrealistic goals. This leads to feelings of overwhelm and disappointment. Setting more realistic goals can help you focus on progress rather than perfection.

Step 3: Practice self-compassion. Perfectionists are often hard on themselves when they make mistakes. The way you speak to yourself has an incredible impact on your mindset and view of yourself. Practicing self-compassion and treating yourself with kindness and understanding can help you be more forgiving and accepting of your flaws. Nancy Tom writes that the “sooner you accept that mistakes are simply a part of life, the sooner you’ll be able to start using these mistakes to your advantage.

Side Note

As a side note, some “of the very best entrepreneurs have experienced their major successes through making mistakes over and over again. Take Richard Branson, for example. While he likes to get things done properly, he is by no means a perfectionist. He has thrown many eccentric ideas at the wall to see what sticks and has experienced many setbacks along the way to his massive entrepreneurial success. While his way of doing things is definitely not for everyone, it is a great example of how you don’t need to be a perfectionist to be successful.”

Step 4: Be flexible. Flexibility and adaptability are key ingredients in managing perfectionism. Being flexible with your beliefs and making use of new information as it becomes available will help you grow. In order to survive in the constantly evolving business world, we must adapt.

Step 5: Challenge your all-or-nothing thinking: Perfectionists tend to think in black-and-white terms, such as “I must be perfect or I am a failure.” As noted earlier, your self-talk impacts your being significantly. Challenging these rigid ways of thinking and finding a more balanced perspective can help you reduce stress and anxiety.

Step 6: Seek support. Overcoming perfectionism is challenging. Seeking support from family, another sole proprietor, or a networking group can be helpful.

If perfectionism is overwhelming, seek support from a therapist, counselor, or support group. These professionals can provide guidance, tools, and encouragement to help you overcome perfectionism and lead a more fulfilling life.

In Conclusion

Although it can be challenging, the journey toward becoming less of a perfectionist and more conscientious is worthwhile. With time, patience, and perseverance, you can overcome perfectionism and build a thriving business that you’re proud of.


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