The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection

Posted By on May 13, 2015 | 6 comments

Nobody’s perfect.

Cliche. But true.

A lot of people spend their time trying to reach perfection in various pursuits. Some spend their lives trying to perfect their golf game. Others will use their time trying to learn another language. Still more might spend their days amassing vast amounts of wealth. All of it in the pursuit of, if not perfection, trying to hit some mark they believe is perfect.

I know a few writers or would-be writers that keep telling me they won’t release their book until it’s perfect.

Just like with the other characters and the things they’re trying to achieve, the writers’ books will never be perfect. I know mine weren’t when I released them and even the new ones I launch aren’t perfect. They have flaws. They always will.

In this life, it can be easy to beat ourselves up for not being perfect.

We are taught to believe that a certain look is beautiful, that we must have certain things to be happy, and that if we do or don’t do a particular set of things in a particular way we are bad people.

Because of this cultural onslaught, we are made to feel guilty when we don’t achieve a certain level of whatever it is we’re expected.

Very often, we punish ourselves with guilt, shame, or blame. Sometimes we might come up with excuses for our shortcomings and put the onus on someone else, which never really helps in the long term.

No matter who you are or where you are in life, it’s not important that you be perfect. You’ll never be.

Every single one of us has something we’ve done wrong or at least not done entirely right. Some may call it sin. Others might say it’s just shortcomings.

We all have sins or shortcomings.

I know I do.

It’s important to understand that no matter what we do, we cannot let guilt over those sins take over our hearts and minds. That isn’t to say we should just ignore those shortcomings. To do so would be to give in to our animal instincts and then we would be no better than the beasts.

Rather, it is our pursuit of perfection that matters.

Though we will never achieve it, not in this life anyway, it is our constant struggle to do better, to be better, to strive for perfection that keeps us moving forward. It makes us human. It stays the moral compass of the world, without which we would descend into chaos.

Perhaps you have a deep, dark secret you keep from everyone, a sin that no one else knows about. It’s okay. Keep working at it. Keep struggling with it.

One thing you can’t do is judge yourself.

The great teachers of the ancient world, my favorites being Jesus from the Bible and the Buddha, both talked about letting go of judgement, both for others and for yourself. If we beat ourselves up over our shortcomings we will not be able to achieve a higher level of existence in this world. And we will never be happy.

We’ll mope around all the time, carrying that awful feeling in our guts about whatever our imperfection is.

Instead of judging yourself, keep pushing forward. You cannot change the past or the things that happened there but you can make the next decision. You can choose differently in your next moment.

You can pursue perfection.

If you don’t get there, that’s okay. Go easy on yourself.

The pursuit is what makes us who we are.


  1. This totally applies to a post I made the other day about how badly I wanted to fix my flaws and die a perfect person. It’s great to be reminded that perfection is rarely attainable but should be saught after none the less.

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    • Glad you found it applicable, Tyler. And thanks for your comment.

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    • As I have said to my students, ” The closest thing to perfection are our mothers” if you are lucky.

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  2. Ernie,
    Great post, and congrats on your baby! You’re going to be a great dad!

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  3. Great post! second one I’ve read, and i loved both of them. To me it sound like you really speak from your heart im no writer but i can tell that you yourself have dealt with these feeling and understand like most how to overcome them, but i think what really matters (again to me) is that you practice what you preach I’ve felt many of these emotions both about shortcomings and the pursuit of perfection as well as getting too comfortable in a relationship and losing that spark (the topic of another article you wrote that went over the key to a long lasing relationship) I’ve even come to the same ideas as you but unlike you i have thus far failed to apply them to my life mostly due to fear of the (possibly permanent) negative outcomes. it is turly reaffirming to not only see that others think this way but to know they have positive results backing them up. it has always seemed farfetched or impossible for life to yeld such easy answers for some of it’s most troubling problems. thank you for inspiring me to follow through and use these solutions instead of doubting myself and assuming it’s to late to change things for the better. im going to rekindle my relationship and continue a persuit to better myself 🙂 keep writing you rock! I apologize that my comment has little to no punctuation, terrible grammar and most likely many misspelled words. im sure youll get the just of it Thanks again! Aaron

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    • Don’t apologize. And thanks for your kind and thoughtful comment. I fail every single day, by the way. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
      But it doesn’t stop me from trying to push on.
      Just keep going. That’s all we can do. 🙂

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