“I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I can be perfectionistic. Not about everything, but about enough. The older I get, the more I realize that perfectionism isn’t doing me any favors.
1. Perfectionism is exhausting. If you want to do something perfectly, you have to put in a lot of extra time and energy, and then when it doesn’t turn out perfectly (because doing something perfectly is impossible), and you feel like poo, that’s tiring too.
2. Perfectionism is not very fun. For example, what kind of space would you rather spend time in: one that is so pristine and clean you’re afraid you’ll break something and make a stain, or one that is a little messy and disorganized, but where you can relax, move freely and be yourself?
3. Perfectionism is not productive. According to the New York Magazine article, The Alarming New Research on Perfectionism, “Research confirms that the most successful people in any given field are less likely to be perfectionistic, because the anxiety about making mistakes gets in your way.”
4. Perfectionism kills creativity. If you want to write a book, create art, build a business, or be a healer of any kind, you’ll need to tap into your creativity over and over again. As Anne Lamott so wisely writes in Bird by Bird, “perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force.”
The start of a New Year can make perfectionism raise her perfectly coiffed head, but what if instead of trying to be perfect in an area of our lives (e.g. work, money, love, health, friends, family, home, creativity, spiritual life, activism) we resolved to be medium in 2017?
Our world at large could probably use a good dose of medium right now.
Photo by me.