So far during this A to Z Challenge, each word I’ve chosen will help you achieve a life less ordinary. Here’s the exception.
If you strive to be perfect, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t meet your goals. Sounds counterintuitive, huh? Who wouldn’t want to be perfect? And that’s the problem. Nobody’s perfect, but you can drive yourself perfectly crazy by striving to reach unattainable standards.
I know a really talented writer who will probably never publish a book. Why? His novels, while fantastic and well written, aren’t perfect. Every time he goes over his work, he finds more mistakes, or something he could tweak or make better. He’s been rewriting the same books for years, and still, they can’t measure up. Of course not. The more he writes, the better a writer he becomes, and the more flaws he will find in his early work. That’s to be expected. But does that mean he shouldn’t publish anything until it’s perfect?
That’s a classic example of perfectionism, but it can go far beyond that. How many of us put off something we really want to do or experience because the timing isn’t perfect?
Can’t have a child until we’re out of debt and finished school and set up in our careers.
Can’t take that family portrait until we’ve reached our goal weight.
Can’t write that book until we can find a spare hour or two everyday.
Can’t have people over until the house looks perfect.
Can’t sell the house until it is perfect.
The truth is, if everyone waited for the timing to be perfect, no one would have a child. Or move to another country. Or fight in the ring. Or travel around the world. Or write a book. Or sing on stage.
You can always be better. You can always spend more time striving for perfection. The irony is, often getting out and actually doing the things we’re putting off gets us closer to that unattainable goal.
Sometimes it’s better to have a less-than-perfect novel published than to never be published at all.
What do you think? Are there instances in your life where perfectionism has held you back?