The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

perfect waterPerfectionism, the nemesis of progress.

It stops you in your tracks.

Why even bother starting, if your reality won’t live up to an idealised, albeit fictional, version?

Let’s face it…

All too often your best-laid plans are left to rust, a graveyard of good ideas and lofty ideals.

The Perfectionism Problem

The uncomfortable truth is that nothing you do will ever be perfect.

Even a project you’re happy with now will leave you crippled with embarrassment upon future reflection.

Much like your fashion sense when you were young; cool then, but ultimately betrayed by time.

It’s why many creatives can’t stand to revisit their work, however celebrated.

The reason we’re locked in the jaws of perfectionism now is because of the pristine vision our minds hold for the future.

The grand plan you’ve formulated in all its colourful minutia adds excessive pressure, denying you the very room to start.

Instead of focusing on the small, momentary actions that comprise the greater vision, you’re overwhelmed by self-imposed expectation.

You dare not start.

The Enemy of Progress

The reassuring fact? You’re not alone. Some of the greatest minds in history have faced the same mental hurdles.

But where others have cowered, they’ve embraced their imperfection and ploughed on.

Take Van Gogh’s earlier works, which were far from perfect.

Despite early failures, it was his systematic approach that defined him in his craft.

Through practice and repetition, he whittled the building blocks that would later support his most celebrated work.

Countless examples embody this principle.

There’s Seinfeld’s strategy of writing a joke every day; A technique to build a habit and also punch perfection in the face.

Then there’s Woody Allen’s belief that simply making enough films would turn up a few gems.

You can evaluate your options forever, but unless you take action, it comes to nought.

Only one thing counts, and that’s glorious, messy progress.

Start Before You’re Ready

It’s tempting to think you can plot a straight line to success if only you plan thoroughly enough.

But it’s impossible; there are so many unforeseen eventualities that render the best plans void.

It’s only when you’ve started that you can iterate and progress.

You might be so worried about contaminating the seeds of your perfect ideas that you never nurture them, a paradoxical self-sabotage.

Instead, reconcile yourself with the fact that your first efforts in any endeavour will be clumsy.

All you can do is plant your seeds and see what grows.

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