Perfectionism is a bad thing, right? It’s something we should avoid at all costs. That’s what we’re told. Maybe, just like everything else in life, things are more nuanced than that.
A Heavy Burden
Perfectionism can be a nightmare. You struggle with doing everything exactly right because you want things to work out, well, perfectly. You throw a dinner party and you want the food to be placed on the plate perfectly with the perfect playlist at the perfect volume in the perfect atmosphere as the aroma fills the dining room perfectly.
Or you want to do your job perfectly. You want every i dotted and every t crossed. You want your spreadsheets formatted flawlessly and your files in your file folders organized cleanly and with perfectly spaced labels. Your papers sitting on your desk are squared against the corner and sitting perfectly in a clean stack.
Both of these scenarios can be exhausting. It can have a huge impact on your enjoyment, happiness, and self-worth. But perhaps one scenario doesn’t have to be like this, and it depends on one important factor.
Are They Looking at Me?
It’s strange how much we care about what other people are doing. We seem to focus on what celebrities are doing, what our friends are thinking, and what our social media pals are planning. Everything we see shows a shiny, perfect world where everyone has it right.
And so we strive to make our world shiny and perfect. We have the house spotless, the kids raised exactly like the best books say we should, and work done with all the right steps to make our weekly review shine.
Only it’s not like that at all. The house has a layer of dust we can’t seem to get to, the kids won’t keep their rooms clean for more than ten seconds at a time, and we are barely holding it together at work. Perfection seems to be miles away from where we are.
And yet it’s still something we try to attain. It’s the dream we chase, and for what reason? To feel like we belong? To be like everyone else? To look good? To fit in? This is the perfection that kills. It’s the perfection that destroys our souls over time.
Look at This!
But there is another perfectionism that’s different. It’s not about fitting in. It’s not about being like everyone else. And it’s really not about looking good. It’s about being who we are meant to be.
Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple was obsessed about product design. He would go over the most minute of details. When he presented the first iMac, he spent hours staging the moment when the iMac display spun out on stage making sure the light hit at just the right time. He wanted it to be absolutely perfect.
And it wasn’t because he wanted to impress others, and it wasn’t because he wanted to look good. It was because he had a vision. He knew exactly what it looked like in his mind and he cared enough to make sure that reality matched his vision. He was fueled by passion and had no choice but to see his vision through.
When to Be Obsessed; When to Let Go
Perfectionism can be a difficult thing to live with. Even when it’s driving you toward great things, it can still drive you crazy. So how do you know when you should head toward that perfect vision or when you should let things go?
The answer lies in the motivation. Are you doing this to please others, or are you doing this to please yourself? Are you trying to do what you think you should do, or are you doing what you are passionate about doing? Are you fulfilling someone else’s vision or are you enacting your own vision?
In short, are you doing something you feel you should do while you are left drained and depleted, or are you doing something you are passionate about that energizes and excites you?
Being Your Amazing Self
Don’t destroy yourself doing the things you feel others demand of you. Trying to be perfect is a sure way to lose your creativity and become nothing more than a cookie cutter of something someone else wants you to be.
Instead, embrace your creativity. Embrace your passion. Embrace your curiosity. Create something wild, something grandiose, something amazing. Create something that, to you, is a work of art. And just like an artist with a paint brush, do whatever it takes to make it the perfect version of the vision you have. Enjoy every bit of the process and create something amazing. Just like you.