Usually, I’m not a zodiac sign person. But when it comes to perfectionism, the Virgo in me is totally there.

I’ve been questioning my obsession with perfection since a long time ago. Mainly because everyone that knows I’m a perfectionist has told me to stop being a perfectionist, so I question about it a lot.

Somewhere deep in my heart, I know perfectionism isn’t a good thing for me. But what I don’t know is what makes it a bad thing.

People would say it’s bad for your mental health, that it’s bad for your productivity, that it’s bad for your relationships even.

But how? In what way is perfectionism bad for those things? I didn’t understand.

And I guess if you want to know the answer to a question you’ve never been able to understand, you have to go through that process by yourself. You have to go through the process to feel and experience for yourself to be convinced.

My love-hate relationship with perfectionism

Let me start by sharing why I’ve been kind of stubborn in terms of accepting the fact that perfectionism isn’t a good thing for me.

My narrative is that it’s what got me here. It’s what shaped my current life. It’s a big part of my identity.

In fact, perfectionism has helped me achieve goals I think I wouldn’t have without it. It’s that idea of getting better at doing things that gets me motivated.

For me to accept something wasn’t true in the past is to challenge my ego as a person, a person who is quite comfortable with the way I am now.

But if I’m being honest, like brutally honest, am I 100% satisfied with who I am now? Am I actually happy most of the time?

The answer is no.

I’m definitely not 100% satisfied with myself. I’m not 100% satisfied with how much knowledge I’m lacking in a lot of subjects. I’m not 100% satisfied with how much efforts and work I’ve been putting out there when there could definitely be more. I’m not 100% satisfied with my financial status.

My point is, yeah, it has been me being a perfectionist on certain things that leads to where I am now, and makes me who I am now. But it’s also perfectionism that has put me in a constant state of dissatisfaction.

And if that dissatisfaction only influences specifics aspects of me and would challenge me to grow and become a better version of myself, I’m in. I’m going to embrace that dissatisfaction.

However, that’s not the reality. The reality is that this unsatisfactory feeling grows. It spreads. It makes me feel inadequate, first about few things, and then some things, and more things, and eventually everything, because almost everything could have been better.

But now as I’m telling you this, I’ve just realized I might have mixed it together with growth mindset.

AI convinced me perfection isn’t a good thing

This week, I went through the process and convinced myself to stop being a perfectionist.

The whole process only took around 10 minutes.

In the end, it was AI that let me understand perfection isn’t necessarily a good thing.

So here’s how it went. Previous job as a marketer at a startup made me a habit of automating things, so that that things move faster with less manpower.

I was thinking the same thing for the podcast. If I were to write down the script and let AI do the talking, I save the time of me sitting in front of my computer and recording this. What a brilliant idea!

So I searched for AI tools. AI tools that can clone and generate my AI voice. I found the one that has the highest reviews and also offers free version and gave it a try.

The way it works is that it will give you a short paragraph. You hit record, read the script like how you usually talk. That’s it. After 1 minute or 2, you can hear your AI voice saying anything you want it to say.


I sounded PERFECT.


No one talks perfectly. No one sounds perfect. Human use fillers. When we talk, we hum and huh. We mumble. We stutter. We make mistakes.

That moment I realized, imperfection is what makes human ‘human.’

And what’s really interesting about this realization is that I’ve had a lesson on this back in college. I studied this in a literature class. I remember this piece of story.

I’d never have thought that what I learnt at school would actually come to use in real life some day. Hashtag english-major (baby)

It’s called ‘The Birthmark,’ a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s a story about this almost perfect, beautiful woman, has one and the only glaring imperfection: the birthmark on her face — a small mark in the shape of a hand. Later she found out that her husband thought it was shocking to look at the mark and had been doing experiments in his lab to get rid of that mark. The woman was sad, but agreed and drank the potion. The mark disappeared, and the woman died.

The moral of the story? Seeking perfection is running the risk of destroying what makes us ‘human.’

To be a perfectionist is to torture oneself. That’s what I try to talk myself into now. When my desire of perfectionism strikes, I think of the day when I had fun with this AI tool and I think of ‘The Birthmark.’

Controllable output and selective perfectionism

I’m still figuring things out. I’m trying different ways to help me with the transition from embracing perfectionism to accepting imperfections.

The new mindset I’m trying to adopt to is a combination of two terms: “controllable output“ and “selective perfectionism.“

“Controllable output” is what I apply to the work aspect. “Controllable output” reminds me that I should focus on the output, instead of seeking perfection in every work.

“Controllable output” is setting quantifiable goals and meeting those goals within deadlines. It beats perfectionism in a way that it forces me to put out the work by the deadline regardless of how I think of the work.

“Selective perfectionism” comes in handy for me to identify things that are too perfect. These are the things that require precision, and sometimes that means perfection. You don’t want a lousy doctor doing heart surgery for you, right?

“Selective perfectionism” gives me special permissions on things I want to be perfect and it doesn’t hurt that these things are perfect. Classic examples of this is me cleaning up my room, washing dishes, and putting things on my desk in alignment…

So far, these two mindsets have been working fine. It’s the reason you are able to read this article now: it’s controllable output.