For most of my life, Perfectionism was my adversary. It felt like we were fighting all the time. I envisioned us with swords and shields duking it out. Unfortunately, back then Perfectionism had the bigger sword and won most of the battles. I didn’t feel like anything that I did was good enough.
That feeling of “not good enough” led me to leave things unfinished. I didn’t write much because I never felt that it was good enough for other people to read. I cleaned the house but never felt that it was good enough for company. I avoided some careers that I didn’t feel that I could master to the level demanded by my adversary Perfectionism.
Eventually, Perfectionism didn’t even have to put out much of an effort to win. I got so used to losing and falling short of perfection that I gave up on a lot of stuff and felt like the loser that I was.
Let me clarify that; I was only losing to Perfectionism. I wasn’t really a loser in any other way, but I felt like it. However, I found a book that really resonated with me and helped me change my relationship with Perfectionism.
The book is Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky, and I remember one story in particular. (I don’t have the book with me at the moment, so I’m going off of what I remember.) There was a group of artists who all agreed to produce and share one piece of art a day. It could be anything!
After a year, only one person had shared one piece of art every day, and he is the one who became famous and got rich! He wasn’t necessarily the best, but he was the one that didn’t let Perfectionism convince him that his art wasn’t good enough to publish. He ignored Perfectionism every day for a year! I liked that!
I decided to redesign my relationship alliance with Perfectionism. I acknowledged that she was actually perfect, but that as a human being I was never going to be able to be perfect. Instead of an adversary, I turned Perfectionism into a paradigm – something that I wanted to strive toward. It is powerful to realize that one can get pretty close to perfection and that “almost perfect” is good enough.
I write all the time now! I’ve written a weekly blog for more than three years. I rarely believe what I write is perfect. I feel I could continue to improve each one for weeks! However, I have made a deal with myself that I will put one out each week no matter what.
I also made a deal with Perfectionism. I agreed to have an editor look over each blog to make sure that there were no glaring errors.
The result is that Perfectionism and I are both satisfied now. She is happy, up on her pedestal serving as inspiration. I am happy getting as close to the base as possible while accomplishing goals and getting stuff out the door where it can do some good.
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