I…may have a small problem with perfectionism. Sometimes, this trait serves me well, driving me to do my best. Mostly, however, it quickly grows into a time eating, enthusiasm guzzling monster that sucks the joy out of any project, often even before I’ve gotten started. If you find yourself on the same treadmill as I, these three suggestions may help stop the turning of the wheel.
Accept that there will be some disconnect between thought and reality.
Gazing at the physical manifestation of a painting that had previously lived in my mind, sometimes I find the ‘real’ object lacking. Other times, it is better than the mental image. Often, it is just different. As your project progresses, allowing it to grow more freely will release some pressure from you, giving your inner critic the day off. Plus, there’s the bonus of witnessing your work unfold like a good movie; it is much more engaging if you don’t know every twist.
Counter your inner control freak with play.
Take a break. Head outside if you can and plant your feet in the grass or go for a little stroll. Brainstorm every outlandish, goofy idea. Keep a couple small toys in your workspace. Take a power nap or just doodle. If possible, move your work to a new location, taking your laptop with you to a nearby park, for example. Play has the extraordinary capacity to dislodge stubborn thought patterns, shrinking your project from a deadly serious, looming presence down to a manageable, potentially even enjoyable process.
Take a line from Nike and just do it.
After editing my first post to the point where even I was bored with it, I went back to the original style, took a deep breath and hit publish, potential grammatical errors be damned. When caught in the perfectionist’s loop, there is no ‘good enough’. The simplest solution I have found to end that self-recriminating cycle is to dive in, get ‘er done and move on.
What is your favorite way to break free of the perfectionist’s prison?