One of the biggest problems I have — when it comes to getting my shit together, anyway — is that I’m a perfectionist. A lot of people hear the word “perfectionist” and assume that everything in that person’s life is ideal and immaculate. Not the case. Striving for perfection doesn’t even remotely equate to achieving it. (I wish!)
In fact, for many, it’s the exact opposite. I often put off doing something until I know how to make it perfect, which then leads to the thing never actually getting done at all. In the quest to find the “perfect” item of furniture, or the “perfect” paint colour, rooms are left untouched for years because I’m afraid of making a (costly) mistake. (My house isn’t untidy, I’m just a fucking perfectionist, alright?! 😛 )
My fellow stationery addicts will understand the unwillingness to write in a new notebook for fear of ruining it, and some fellow book-lovers will empathise when I say that broken spines and folded pages give me the heebie jeebies.
Perfectionists also often spend a lot of money in the quest for the “perfect” item or setup, and regularly experience feelings of failure and frustration when things aren’t “just so” (which is pretty much all the time). But that’s no way to live.
So here’s what I’m going to aim for:
I say “positive” because you can spend your whole day working and “being productive” but then have very little to show for yourself at the end of it. Positive productivity is doing things that make a difference. That have a positive impact.
I want to get shit done, even if it’s not perfect. It’s hard to reach perfection, but it’s even harder if you try to get there without making any mistakes along the way. I, for one, see mistakes as failures. As ‘imperfections’. Instead, I need to change my mindset. There are two ways I need to do this:
- The first is to see mistakes as lessons on how to reach perfection. Knowing all the ways something doesn’t work helps me clarify what WILL work.
- The second is to realise that perfection is rare… and fleeting. Not everything can be perfect all the time. Rather, one or two things can be perfect for a while. I’d rather my daughter be in perfect health than have the perfect piece of furniture for the sitting room. And even if I did have the latter, would it still be perfect a year from now? Five years from now? Things change.
I need to stop chasing perfection and start chasing positive productivity. I need to focus on what I can do to take a step in the direction of perfection, without expecting to arrive there in one leap. And I have to realise that trying and failing (or falling short) is infinitely better than being paralysed by the self-imposed goal of perfection.
I’ve already spoken about how important it is to clear out the crap before moving on with your life. Well this is what I’m doing. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to work 100% of the time, but I’m going to try to leave my perfectionist tendencies in 2014. I’m going to focus on just getting shit done, even if the result is… well, shit.
To tweak a popular saying:
What are you leaving behind?