December 04, 2013

Perfectionists Anonymous

Everyone gather around in a circle and remember that this is a safe place. If you can’t read my name tag already, let me introduce myself:

My name is Dane Johnson, and I’m a perfectionist.

We’re often told to strive for perfection. To me, this striving has seen me waiting to present my thoughts, ideas, and work until they’re fully refined and irrefutably awesome.

But, through some feedback and failures (life), I’ve learned that this confining approach has kept me in a perpetual state of revision.

I’m not perfect, life’s not perfect, and perfection is so relative that it’s hard to know what I’ve been chasing down all these years anyway.

It has taken me quite some time to admit to this shortcoming. In fact, I used to carry my perfectionism like a badge of pride. But, I’m here now and I’m ready to sober up to reality.

As hard as it may be to do this, I encourage you to let go of your perfectionism and reveal your work to others…even when you feel it’s not ready.

I’ve found that by sharing my imperfect work with others allows opportunity for refinement and change while still in a flexible form.

You see, perfectionism is just too rigid. Besides, perfection is an unrealistic and immeasurable goal anyhow.

In my experience, most of what I used to measure my work against was not something that was perfect, but something that I perceived as perfect. Perfection is relative, so trying to achieve it is like chasing the wind.

Go on, keep chasing the wind if you like, but you’re here, so I’m under the impression that you’re open to change.

Rather than hide away and refine my work in solitude, I’m learning to invite feedback into my creative process. I’ve asked for input, advice, and insights from people who are outside of my own mind. It’s refreshing to hear their imperfect perspective on my imperfect work.

The feedback I’ve been receiving on my creations has helped to guide me in the refining process, and better work has been produced as a result of my willingness to share. So, consider how these things can help shape your approach to creating new work:

  • Share your ideas with others by inviting people into your creative process.
  • Use their feedback to refine your work.
  • Perfection is relative and can’t be trusted as a guiding metric to assess your work.

Your creations may be less perfect, but they’ll be more relevant.

I’m Dane Johnson and I’m a recovering perfectionist. Thank you for listening.

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