Right off the bat, I must admit that perfectionism is a big problem for me. Even as I sit down to write this article, my fianceé jokes that it will take forever because it will have to be perfect. I laughed and made a mental note not to fall into the trap once again.

The big difference between the pursuit of perfection and the pursuit of excellence is that one kills and the other gives life.

The orange Art & Lutherie acoustic guitar sitting beside me has become decor. I have refused to sell it even when I desperately needed the money because doing so would symbolize the death of a dream. That dream was killed by perfectionism. I could continue to tell you about partially finished artwork or business plans collecting digital dust. I’ve let so many things die because of my perfectionism.


  1. Set unrealistic expectations.
  2. Focus on the negatives instead of the positives.
  3. Use an all or nothing mindset.
  4. Value themselves by what they have accomplished.

Chasing excellence is energizing, especially in service for others!

Achieving excellence is possible! The masterpieces of art or music were accomplished when excellence was in view. Businesses succeed by setting high goals. We can, and should, be motivated by the greatness of what we seek to accomplish. This is where chasing excellence gives life to those who make it their priority.

I want to do great things and I am sure you do too. How do we go about it? How do we keep ourselves from falling into the perfectionist trap? Try the 90% rule.


I was introduced to this by Sean McCabe on his podcast. Since then, I have sought to apply it to my work with liberating results. Warning: this rule only applies to perfectionists. (In fact, you should do 110% if you are not one.) All you have to do is imagine what success will look like for you. Once that is complete, figure out what it might look like if you were only able to accomplish 90% of that goal. Now go make the 90% happen and be thrilled when you reach it!

The perfectionist sets the goal so high it is paralyzing. Successful people set goals that force them to grow.

Four Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism

  1. Set goals that force you to push your boundaries.
  2. Give yourself credit for the good things.
  3. Make use of your limitations.
  4. Broaden your horizons and be more than your work.

So to all my fellow perfectionists, all is not lost! This isn’t a call to resurrect old dreams, nor to settle for normalcy. This is an offer of hope and a tool for accomplishing great things. Set your eyes on what is good and excellent. Look for opportunities to serve others. Have side projects and unrelated interests. But most of all, enjoy an abundant life.

PS. I’m still not going to sell the guitar 😉

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David Stewart

David Stewart

Passionate web developer for Zeal Media and contributor to InspireCast, David loves to inspire and help small businesses grow. David's creativity helps him create fresh web and graphic designs that become showpieces for small businesses.

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