According to a spate of recent reports, perfectionism is on the rise, especially among young people. This is a very bad thing – perfectionism is linked to anxiety, depression and many other problems – but the silver lining is that we’re no longer talking as if it were something to be proud of. For those coming of age in a winner-takes-all economy, where flawless success seems like the only viable alternative to penury, perfectionism is an entirely forgivable affliction. But it is an affliction. Those who still defend being a perfectionist seem to mean something like “being committed to constant improvement”. But that’s different. Perfectionism is the belief that anything short of the very best is a shameful failure. It’s a recipe for being a miserable high achiever, or worse: some studies suggest it’s actually an obstacle to high achievement.
Do we need an antidote to perfectionism?
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