These past few weeks I have watched as Olivia, my daughter, worked so hard at her art projects. She wants them to be absolutely perfect and has spent a ton of time fine-tuning her work before she hands them in. Wanting to get the best mark she could. To be perfect.
I’ve heard some people refer to perfection as the Unicorn of Life, which you most likely never going to encounter. I want to add there… “so stop trying” but that feels too defeatist to me.
It’s not that I think we should not strive to achieve, to seek out that Unicorn, but sometimes our idea of what ‘achievement’ is may never happen.
It may be that the Unicorn of Life is something so perfect our attempts to achieve it actually stop us from experiencing other aspects of life.
Striving for Perfection becomes our block.
We keep going after it and channel our energy toward that one goal we want to perfect, and instead we leave other tasks and work behind. Instead of reaching the point of being ‘Good Enough’ with many projects, we have a lot of projects unfinished awaiting perfection on the one we focus on. Our productivity spirals downward. Trying to make everything perfect, can sabotage our productivity.
I see this a lot in new business owners starting out and building a website. Many are reluctant to start business until their website is ready, until it is perfect, until it really shows what they have to offer. They want it to be perfect before they can launch it and launch their business.
Some see this as the need to do things right, but in a lot of cases, it is more true to say they were using the website as a reason to keep them from starting the business, a venture that can be scary. In cases like this the website becomes a crutch for a lot of people, one that keeps them in their safe place, thinking they are aiming for perfection, when reality is they are scared to take a leap.
In another light you can also classify this quest for perfection as procrastination. And nothing hurts productivity more than procrastination.
A former client of mine wrote a book called “Better than Perfect” and it is a fabulous read. An eye opener for those of us who set our sights on “Being Perfect”.
The word “perfect” has a Latin root; and it means “made well” or “done thoroughly.” Another translation some say would be “complete”.
Think about this… is your project in fact complete? Is your block the quest for perfection?
If you have been struggling with unfinished to-do lists and projects but seem to spend a lot of time on one other area, take a look back at where you are spending your time. If it is you may want to look at the state of that project with an outside view.
If so, maybe you need to let your hunt for the Unicorn go and move onto other things that will bring you even more feelings of accomplishment.
I finally got Olivia to understand that her work was good. Good enough to hand in and she stopped the extra reviewing, editing and redoing. I’m not sure she gets the “It does not need to be perfect” aspect yet, but we are a step closer!
Are you a perfectionist? Share your story!