Perfection is the Enemy

So last year happened. 

Apparently. 

It both felt like 347 years and that it never existed, but now it is over and done, and by the mere fact that the earth revolves and we mark that with the label time, it is now 2022.

I find it strange that I am so affected by the fresh start, fresh slate mentality. And it isn’t just for the years but for months, weeks, and days. Nothing resets, no lines are actually drawn, a single millisecond stands between ‘then’ and ‘now’ and yet just like opening a fresh notepad, cracking the spine of a new book, or peeking at the yet to be touched convex pans of watercolour, it feels like a new start, filled with nothing but potential. There are some pros and cons to this mindset for me.

Pro: Every day feels like a new chance to get it right, to go for it, to step towards my goals, passions, and future.

Con: If I make a mistake or miss something out I was supposed to do in the day. it feels like a spelling error on a page, so obvious and ugly and no amount of Tipex will make it look right. It feels ruined and so I no longer care about that day because it can’t be perfect and I will often call it a ‘write-off’

Pro: When I start a new habit, goal or, skill I am filled with determination, a go-get-em attitude and I pour everything into it.

Con: As soon as I fudge a new habit, goal or skill – say I miss a day, or eat something ‘I’m not supposed to’ that’s it. If I can’t get the perfect run what’s the point? At best, I’ll try again on Monday, at worst I will forget I wanted to do that thing.

Pro: I love planning for the next month/quarter and it brings me so much joy

Con: I tend to overbook myself, wildly underestimate how long a task will take, and don’t allow time for flexibility, which all tends toward things going awry, life getting in the way and a frustrated me who can now see the domino effect of failure toppling into the future, which means I lose hope and motivation.

You get the point. If left unobserved my brain leans towards perfectionism. It is a weakness of mine and I don’t mean that in a job interview kind of way where you label yourself a perfectionist in a thinly veiled play to show just how awesome you are. I mean it is a genuine weakness, not just in me but in everyone who thinks of themselves as one. 

 You see perfection is the enemy of done. And goals aren’t supposed to get perfect, they are supposed to get done. ‘I’m a Perfectionist,’  is a pretty way of saying, ‘I’m Scared.’ It’s a flowery form of fear. Nothing will ever be perfect and if it’s never perfect then it’s never done and if it’s never done then you never have to show people. Never be seen or judged. It’s safe but it’s small and I’m done playing small.

So while I was sitting down this year thinking about what I would like to have achieved in twelve months I thought about this, because I don’t want to have the same goals next year, I don’t want to have made no progress because I’m scared. And that’s why LEARN is my word of the year. 

 It opens me up to mistakes, it allows for life, it says you are learning and you can never be perfect while you are learning because you don’t know the things. So far this week (at the time of writing) I have had two days in which things have very much not gone to plan and instead of feeling despair, I’ve felt OK. I’ve carried on and while I may not have gotten all the things done, I got things done. I didn’t dissolve, I kept going and achieved more than I could have if I was using perfect as my yardstick.

 Now it is early days and I can’t see into the future but it feels so refreshing to have fucked up and not even reached for the Tipex.

 Now it’s your turn, do you have a word of the year? I’d love to read about it in the comments and we can share this journey with you.

Until next time remember,

Perfection is not attainable.

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