The Endless Pursuit of Perfection

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

– Salvador Dali

It happened again, but this time a friend caught me. “No more tweaking that presentation, its good enough!” she said sternly. “But I just want it to be a top quality job.” I countered. However, the look on her face told me she was not amused. For years I have been accused of being a perfectionist, but always dismissed it as taking extra care and pride in my work. Could I really be a perfectionist who has really been living in denial?

With this new epiphany, I started analyzing my past behavior for clues to validate my hypothesis, and began researching common traits of a perfectionist. Although I learned about several of them related to perfectionism, there was one in particular that seemed very familiar to me.

Worried About What Others Will Think
Whether writing an article, putting together a proposal, or preparing a presentation, I can sit for hours working on the tiniest of details. I have been ridiculed many times for staying up all night to work on a 20 minute speech I would deliver the next day.

It doesn’t seem to matter what type of activity I am involved in. I can literally tweak, adjust, change, alter, flip, maneuver, manipulate, or rearrange something to death; but only because I have such high quality standards!

At least that’s the lie I’ve told myself for years. The truth is I am really worried about what other people are going to think of me and my work. I am worried about being judged and perceived as a buffoon. I am worried the world is going to see me for who I really am, and that I might be a big disappointment.

Sometimes Good Enough Really Is Good Enough
I do believe it’s important to do your best, have high standards, and produce top quality work. However, where do we draw the line between quality work and obsessive nitpicking? Since things can always be improved, where do we decide when something is good enough?

Recently I have been challenging myself to believe and accept that sometimes good enough really is good enough. This means I am considering something finished and complete even though I may not really think it is perfect. One way I began practicing this is to set a firm deadline for completion, and force myself to stick to it. I carefully determine my allotted time for an activity, and when the time runs out I am done. No more tweaking. No more messing around. It’s done and it’s good enough.

Trying To Be Perfect Is Just Too Stressful
I admit finishing these activities without the extra hours of additional tweaking has been fearful at times. “What will people think?” are the thoughts that always seem to be playing through my mind. However, the act of learning to separate my work and accept me for me without worry has become a big relief. Not to mention a big time saver.

The amount of stress and anxiety I have put myself under throughout the years trying to make things perfect has been enormous. I am sure it sounds ridiculous and far from logical, but becoming aware of this behavior is an absolute blessing. I may have a long way to go, but at least I feel I’m off to a good start.

If you have ever been accused of being a perfectionist, perhaps it’s time to do a little exploration of your own. It’s okay to set a deadline and be done. It’s okay if you didn’t get your last tweaks in. It’s okay if you don’t think it’s the very best. It’s okay to be yourself! It is certainly a lot less stressful.

It’s even okay for me to submit this post without rewriting it another dozen times. It’s okay to give up my endless pursuit of perfection. I guess I am making progress.

To your SUCCESS,

Daryl Murrow

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