Why you shouldn't strive for perfection

It may seem strange that pursuing perfection prevents many from achieving their financial goals, but it often happens. J. D. Roth, the personal finance expert, explains why the best is the enemy of the good. But first, subscribe to our Telegram channel. We often publish such valuable articles!

Maximizers and moderates

In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explores how modern abundance culture robs us of contentment. We think we will be happier with more options, but the effect is often the opposite, especially for perfectionists.

Schwartz identifies two types of people: maximizers and moderates. Here is how he describes the differences between them.

Choosing wisely begins with developing a clear understanding of your goals. And the very first choice we have to make is between the goal of choosing the best and the goal of choosing what is good enough. You are a maximizer if you only look for the best and don’t settle for anything else.

Barry Schwartz

In other words, maximizers are perfectionists.

“The alternative to maximizing is to be moderate. To exhibit moderate behavior is to opt for what is good enough and not worry about the possibility that something better exists,” Schwartz writes in his book.

That does not mean that moderates do not have their own rules of choice. They are obvious. It’s just that the moderates know how to be content with the good, and the maximizers are always searching for the ideal.

Interestingly, all this pursuit of the ideal leads to maximizers feeling less joy from their choice. They constantly think that there is something even better.

How to overcome the maximizer in yourself

Faced with the need to make any decision, the maximizer begins to seek information, compare and analyze. But you know what? No matter how much time you spend trying to find the ideal, your expectations will most likely not be met because there is no perfect choice.

Instead, try sticking to a simple plan if you’re contemplating a purchase, for example:

  • Decide how much you are willing to spend.
  • Stop at one store and choose only from its assortment.
  • Select a few brands whose quality you trust.
  • Limit yourself in time. Instead of thinking about all the options for several days, set aside a couple of hours for this.

Ideal and procrastination

Perfectionism has its drawbacks. Studies have confirmed that perfectionists are physically and mentally more vulnerable than those who do not pursue perfection.

In addition, the search for the ideal often leads to procrastination. No matter what you want to do: build up a reserve capital, get rid of debt, open your retirement account — there are always plenty of reasons to put it off. Although in all such cases, the best option is to start immediately.

It’s okay if you haven’t found the perfect interest-rate deposit or the best mutual fund. Have you found some good ones? Choose one. It’s one of the main rules for success. You can continually improve.

By trying to make the best choice, you end up doing nothing and possibly undermining your future. That is why the best is the enemy of the good.


  • Train yourself to be moderate. When deciding, ask yourself what would happen if you settled for good instead of perfect.
  • Start with the good, then move towards the best. Let the ideal become a long-term project for you.
  • Don’t dwell on the past. If you make a mistake, try to learn from this lesson and move on.

Seeking perfection is okay. It is natural to want the best for yourself and your loved ones. You just need to remember that pursuing an ideal can often become an obstacle to the life we ​​aspire to.

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