Stop trying to be perfect

Well, we’re a couple of weeks into the new year, and I’m going to ask you a question.

I’m a tad afraid to ask because of what the answer might be, but…here it goes.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

Sorry if I hit a sore spot. It’s quite possible that many of you just doubled over in pain, wanting to forget that you even MADE resolutions this year.

I get it. We’ve all done it. We’ve all made resolutions that lasted, oh…maybe a week. And then, other things pop up. Or become more important. Or we just lose motivation.

Or we set extremely high expectations for ourselves that doomed us to failure before we even started.

Here’s what I know about creative people like you and I…we have high standards. We set expectations that can sometimes be way out of reach. And for good reason. We want to be the best we can be with the skills and talents we have. It’s noble and honorable.

And often downright stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I want you to reach high and make some risky goals. But if I know you at all as a creative, I know that you probably suffer from perfectionism-ism.

You read that right, perfectionism-ism. It’s not a typo. It’s not misspelled. There are two “ism’s.” Why, you ask?

Here’s my theory. Many people suffer from perfectionism. We see the movies, the TV shows, the magazines, the advertisements, and everything else that communicates to the general public that we’re not good enough. We see the models that look beyond perfect and compare our own bodies to them and think, “I’ll never look that skinny.”

That’s a general shortcoming of citizens of humanity.

But as creative people: the writers, artists, designers, photographers, and musicians…we tend to over-perfectionize (that’s also on purpose…even though “perfectionize” is not a word).

We not only compare ourselves to other great creatives, but we compare ourselves to the “perfect” version of ourselves. That version doesn’t create “rough drafts.” That version nails the biggest clients and high accolades. But that version…does not exist.

Here’s what I’ve learned to be true: perfection is the enemy of done. Or as Voltaire puts it:

Perfect is the enemy of good.”

Interesting. Perfect is the enemy of good?

If I asked a random person on the street, or even you, “Do you want to be good at what you do?” They/you would probably say, “Heck YEAH I want to be good!” But we’re waging war against good in pursuit of perfect.

Perfectionism-ism suffocates our creativity by putting ginormous expectations on ourselves. It doesn’t fan the flame of our desires…it pours gallons and gallons of water on the wood before we even try to light it.

Good and done is WAY BETTER than perfect and unfinished.

Seth Godin says it best by saying, “Just ship it.”

Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t aim high, but we need to have a balance between being “risky” and being “delusional.”

Delusional = perfectionism-ism.

I want to share two things that I think will help you.

  1. It’s okay. We’ve all been there and we all struggle with perfectionism-ism from time to time. It’s just not okay to stay there.
  2. Dial back the crazy and just start. Many of us are afraid to ever take a step in a direction because we’re afraid of not meeting our perfectionism-ism standards. And you won’t. So stop beating yourself up about it.

It’s okay to have high standards and be risky. But maybe we should set our sights on good instead of perfect.

So who’s with me? Ready to start a revolution for “good?” Leave a comment below and let us know: what goals are you striving for this year?