Getting Over Perfectionism

Written by on October 26, 2018

Getting Over Perfectionism

According to the World Date base of Happiness (yes, there is one) Iceland is one of the happiest place on earth. That’s right, Iceland. Yes, I know it’s cold and dark six months out of the year there. I’m just giving you the data.

The secret to their happiness? Eric Weiner, an author of The Geography of Bills, traveled to Iceland to find out. After interviewing a number of Icelanders, Weiner discovered that their culture doesn’t stigmatize failure. Icelanders aren’t afraid to fail—or to be imperfect—so they’re more willing to pursue what they enjoy. That’s one reason Iceland has more artists per capita than any other nation. “There’s no one on the island telling them they’re not good enough, so they just go ahead and sing and paint and write,” Weiner writes.

Perfectionist has a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them. In the beginning, it’s they who aren’t ready. In the end, it’s their product that’s not. So either they don’t start the screenplay, or it sits in their drawer for ten years because they don’t want to show it to anyone.

But the world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity. And productivity can be achieved only through imperfection. Make a decision. Follow through. Learn from the outcome. Repeat over and over and over again. It’s the scientific method of trial and error. Only by wading through the imperfect can we begin to achieve glimpses of the perfect.

So how do we escape perfectionism? I have three ideas”

  1. Don’t try to get it right in one big step. Just get it going.- Don’t write a book, write a page. Don’t create the entire presentation, just create a slide. Pick a small manageable goal and follow through. Then pursue the next.
  2. Do what feels right to you, not to others.- By all means read, listen and learn from others. But then put all the advice away, and shoot for what I consider to be the new gold standard: good enough.
  3. Choose your friends, co-workers, and bosses wisely—Critical feedback is helpful as long as it’s offered with care and support. But the feedback that comes from jealousy or insecurity or arrogance or without any real knowledge of you? Ignore it


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