There are some things in life that stop us in our tracks. They make it impossible for us to continue forward.
In the life of a creative person, perfectionism is one of those things. And it’s a dreadful curse.
Yes. It may seem like a great goal to achieve: being able to have the absolutely best product that is absolutely flawless in every aspect. But, perfectionism fails to account for one vital truth: we will never reach perfection. We may come close, but we’ll never quite get there.
If you are striving to get something that is impossible, you’ll never get there and, as a result, never complete it.
There have been several people that have talked about this problem. Just to mention a couple, Jon Acuff and Carlos Bernard made some statements that really stand out to me.
In his book Quitter, Jon Acuff wrote: “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”
I remember reading that a couple years ago, and I started to act on it. I started to write some more blog posts and record more podcast episodes.
But then perfection knocked on my door again. And I opened the door. And invited him in for supper. And he started living in my house.
Then I read a blog post by Carlos Bernard (the actor that plays Tony Almeida on the show 24) entitled, “Nothing’s as Imperfect as……..Perfectionism.”
In that post, he mentioned that his daughter had to miss recess (that is really a sad thing for a child to miss!). Her reason was that it takes her a long time to do her work in class because she was afraid of making a mistake. She was trying for perfection. This sent Carlos to examine this.
He then looked at the word “perfect” and “creative.”
Creative: Having the quality of something created, rather than imitated.
Perfect: Faithfully reproducing the original. Accurate. Certain. Sure. Seamless.
He was shocked how opposite these two concepts are, yet many creatives are stuck in perfectionism!
Here I am, trying to create content, yet I keep trying to make everything perfect.
It doesn’t work!
It’s like trying to boil water while constantly adding cold water.
Here’s some ways to help overcome this curse of perfection:
1. Admit your problem
This is always the first step. If you can’t admit that you have a problem, then you don’t see the need to fix it. My guess is that, if you have read this far, that you realize that you have a problem with perfectionism.
2. Set a deadline for yourself
One problem with perfectionism is that there are no real deadlines that you’re facing. You need to discipline yourself to set deadlines for the projects that you’re working on, whether it is for work, a blog post, podcast episode, a book, or whatever. Put a timeline to your work.
When setting a deadline, make sure that it is realistic, but that it is still aggressive enough to push you.
3. Get accountability
When I used to go to the gym to workout (that was a long time ago…), I never had a personal trainer. But I saw people that used them. The trainer would be so mean to the person they were working with. They would make them keep doing the exercises even when they got too tired. Yet, the people kept going back to the personal trainer.
It boggled my mind – why would anyone pay someone to be mean to them! Because they saw the value beyond the pain. They looked past the immediate circumstance and were able to see the benefits down the road.
After you set a deadline for your project, get someone to keep you accountable and on track with it. If you say that you want to have a blog post come out every Thursday, have someone check with you (preferably before Thursday). This could be a spouse, family member, friend, online acquaintance, or someone you work with.