Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A case for imperfection

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke

I have been accused of being a perfectionist.  I have always fought that characterization because, after all, nothing is ever perfect.  On the other hand, I am frequently aware that I take waaaay too long to do just about everything, usually as a result of redoing or overthinking or restarting or even not starting.... all pretty strong evidence of perfectionist traits.  I know that I am taking too long and tell myself to stop - you know, right after just one more little adjustment.

In the past, I have tried to start journals on multiple occasions but inevitably I miss a day and then feel that I couldn't just skip those days.  Instead, I would feel compelled to go back and try to include notes for every day before moving forward so the gap would build and it would become stressful.  Instead of being relaxation or catalyst, the journal keeping became a burden.  I'm not helping my case here, am I? 

I would try to argue that I am a recovering perfectionist but not even sure that I could sell that since maybe I'm not yet recovering.  Still, I'm better than I used to be.  No really.   In the past year, I have managed to become much less rigid a journal keeper.  I no longer feel compelled to backtrack to missed days.  Well, not very often anyway.  And I'm getting pretty darned lax about organization if I do say so myself.   It is time to...

Embrace imperfection

Perfection stifles creativity AND productivity.  Aim for excellence but be realistic. That includes realistic about the time available.  Set deadlines and keep them, even if they are your own self-imposed time limits. 

Start today

Don't procrastinate or wait for the perfect time.  Start now, today.

If you have stories to tell, don't let perfection be an excuse for getting started. The stories do not depend on getting all the details exactly right or on finding the perfect font and the ideal picture.  Focus on getting it down.   That is what matters.  You can always expand, edit or refine later.

Where do you fit?

How would you characterize yourself on the perfection scale? Are you a perfectionist and proud of it?  A sometimes or situational perfectionist?  A denying or recovering perfectionist?   Or perhaps you are the polar opposite of a perfectionist - would that be an unperfectionist - or maybe anti-perfectionist?

What strategies do use to make sure that perfection does not become procrastination?

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