Why being perfectionist will make you fail? |Tip125

Today I would like to share with you an article I read from 99U, written by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, writer of The 3 secrets to effective time investment.

How many of us who love Design Sketching have Perfectionism tendencies ? And don’t realise how much it affects our learning journey ? We may be our own barrier at learning fast, smoothly and happily – That’s especially true for Design student beginner. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that we shouldn’t be high demanding. It’s all about being Pragmatic.

Sketches planche pour portfolio

Quick sketches – Adidas sneakers – 2009 – Chung Chou-Tac
These sketches are full of imperfection. To get results fast, I recommend to learn sketching with accuracy instead of perfectly.*

* It’s like learning a new language. We rather learn to be able to converse with people than struggling with the greatest grammar. Otherwise we may dare talking to people years later, and get so many opportunities to abandon in between. Ok, we may not speak perfectly, but at least we can enjoy communicating with new people !

Perfectionist* vs Pragmatic.

“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing”

– Eugene Delacroix

Let’s see why being a perfectionist is actually not a good thing.
*Perfectionism =  “A disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable”


If you have perfectionist tendencies you may:

  • Think that settling is worse than not completing a project.
  • See things either in black or white. If your sketch is perfect, awesome ! But most of the time, a tiny thing is enough to disturb the whole and make it feels like a failure. So you make a paper ball and like M. Jordan, you throw it in the paper basket. Too bad, it falls aside.
  • Being stressed out of failing and being seen a failure or imposter.
  • Abandon a project early.
  • Procrastinate till the “perfect time” to start is ready.
    e.g. Wait for having plenty of time, have the perfect and newest version of iMac with the latest Photoshop, the sweetest graphic tablet of the market… instead we rather do else things. We end feeling guilty of not starting earlier.
    (Have you ever started to spend time at cleaning your room instead of starting your project ? If yes, question yourself why. 😉 I did quite a lot !)
  • Tend to start a project only after a TON of research of pictures and articles that we may actually NOT need… then end to be overwhelmed and unable to take any decision. So remain stuck at early stage of the project…
  • Spend too much time in useless task such as refining the presentation boards at early stage.

“An accomplished work doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

– Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Let’s look at how to keep High expectation while being Pragmatic:

  • Target the minimum requirement (by listing the top priorities) while you give your best resources.
  • Focus on the end result and divide the process in few steps for a good time management. Feel free to add an extra margin of safety.
    If you like doing a lot of research (like myself), make sure to allocate a proper time and respect it.
  • Know when your work is good enough, and know how to say Stop.
  • Refine the project with the remaining time.
  • Receive feedbacks. If you can’t, tell yourself that you may get awesome information for growing. Agree or not, you are able to filter and respond.
  • Celebrate your success !
  • Move on to the next project. 🙂


Get things done + Be less stressed out = Deliver your creativity on time

See more at: Failure is part of the learning process.
Know more about the Creative funnel system: The 5 phases of creativity in a Design company.

Are you perfectionist ?
If yes, let us know your impression, and how does it affects positively or negatively your experience.

See you guys for the next Tips !

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About The Author


Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )



    Reply Reply June 15, 2015

    This post discribes perfectly i use to think bein a perfectionist is totally a good thing but thanks for the eye opener

  • Rik

    Reply Reply June 11, 2015

    Hey, yep very recognizable. Dividing in steps and sticking to it is a good tip for me 🙂

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply July 7, 2015

      Great that the TIP helps you.
      More you praice it, better you will know how much time you need for certan task.
      It’s even more essential for freelance Designer.

  • Alex

    Reply Reply June 9, 2015


    This is a great post. Like looking in the mirror =)

    But one thing’s not clear for me, because english is foreign to me. What does this mean: ‘Think that settling is worse than not completing a project.’?

    Thank you!

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply July 7, 2015

      Hello Alex,

      It means that they don’t accept to low the expectation (if needed) in order to finish a project.
      Perfectionist tend to look for Perfection. – Otherwise they rather not present anything.
      Can you still see yourself in a mirror ? 😉

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