Does Striving For Perfection Drive You Bananas?

Going Bananas

Early in our marriage, Mr. 4-Ever made the mistake of mentioning how much he enjoyed another woman’s banana bread. Not to be outdone, I took it upon myself to make his life complete by creating my own perfect loaf of banana bread. I tried a dozen recipes, but none of them turned out well.

We ate a lot of really mediocre banana bread and threw an obscene amount of banana bread in the trash. No matter what I did, I could not get the bread to come out right.

I cried. I whined. I obsessed.

Finally, Dave told me that his appetite for banana bread had waned. He said as nicely as he could that my insane pursuit of perfecting banana bread was done and I needed to quit wasting my time and our money. 

Perfection steals your joy and your time!

Maybe I’m the only one who lets perfection run her life, but I gotta believe I’m not alone. In another blog, I wrote how striving for perfection isolates you and steals your joy, but have you considered how much time you waste when you pursue perfection relentlessly? When you insist on do-over after do-over till it’s perfect, you waste time and resources unnecessarily. And if you don’t have the time to make it perfect, you are miserable!

If you need to re-do your hair, your makeup, your banana bread, your test score, and most of your conversations, you will waste a lot of time and energy.

I wish I had a nickel for every dessert I trashed cuz the edges were overdone. Every brush I threw when my hair wasn’t just right. Every writing project I discarded cuz it wasn’t good enough.

Here’s the Truth!

Replace the lie that your work needs to be perfect with the truth of God’s word that says you only need to do your best.

The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” Colossians 3:23-24 

When perfection tries to ruin your life, how do you recognize it and keep it from taking over? I’d love to hear your strategy. Leave me a comment below. 

Prayer: Father, you created us to do our best but not be robbed of our joy, time and resources chasing perfection. Whisper your pleasure to us and with us. In Jesus Name. Amen.


  1. Larissa Fluegel on March 24, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Strategy 1: Decide in advance how much time I realistically have to dedicate to a given activity, set up a timer/alarm to do it and when it goes off, I stop, trusting God will fill in the gaps, which He always does, one way or another; for instance, if I am supposed to review 5 pages of some resource in preparation for an activity but I only get to two in the time I have, instead of stealing time from another activity or missing on sleep, I let it go, typically something happens that it is just what I needed, e.g., the discussion/activity goes so well we run out of time before we get to the content I did not get to review in advance, or the activity gets postponed and I get more time to complete the readings or they cancel the activity, etc.. It never fails… that when I do my best I can with the time I have, God shows up to meet me right where I am.

    • Robyn Dykstra on March 25, 2019 at 2:15 am

      This is such good council. Thanks for sharing what works for you. I’m sure it will help me, too.

  2. Kathy on March 25, 2019 at 12:38 am

    Well stated, Robyn! I am a perfectionist from a long line of perfectionists! It has been said that I am my own worst enemy! But you are right, this robs of the joy and peace God has so graciously given us. I have learned to be alert to my thoughts and to take every thought captive unto Christ. () I keep a guard on my thoughts with Philippians 4: 8 as my standard. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Being a perfectionist makes me critical of myself. Here’s where I got really motivated to let God help me with this —”Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) God spoke clearly to me that He was not the one condemning me…That is the devil’s job….God taught me to think His way instead of condemning myself the way the devil condemns. When I recognize that I am going there again, I confess and thank God for the opportunity to be reminded that I still need Jesus. He is the only perfect human being!

    • Robyn Dykstra on March 25, 2019 at 2:15 am

      Hey Kathy,
      Thanks for these great Scriptures and tools to deal with perfectionism. Love it!

  3. Bobbie Walsh on March 25, 2019 at 4:03 am

    I too can be my own worst enemy. I let everyone else “off the hook” but expect so much from myself. Was trained to be a perfectionist! For me, I have to remind myself who I am in Christ and learn to laugh at my shortcomings-not take everything to heart. I know I’m a person who needs much structure but it’s a fine balance between finding what works so I can cope with all I do as a speech-language pathologist, and to allow myself room to fail. I am having the pendulum swing the other way, and lately giving myself permission to just “get er done” when it comes to report writing, even if the end product is not exactly how I want it to be. Some of my favorite verses when I’m striving: Isaiah 41:13 “for I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Also, when I am striving I have to stop and refocus my energies elsewhere- Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” At the root of perfectionism is a fear of rejection. Dear friend, we have already been approved by God when we were adopted into his family. Therefore, If God is for us, who can be against us?

    • Robyn Dykstra on March 27, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      This is so beautiful. Thanks for your authenticity and wonderful go-to verses.
      Blessings to you!

  4. Susan on March 25, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    I have wasted a lot of my life trying to be perfect and dealing with my A+ personality as I think they go hand in hand. My solution is to dive into the word and talk to The Lord when I struggle, And out loud I tell the evil one to leave me and my family alone Helping others also takes my mind off of me. If I could only deal better with taking offense.

    • Robyn Dykstra on March 27, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      You have such great self-awareness and I love your approach to enemy attacks. Thanks so much for sharing.

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