From the Editor: The Problem With Perfectionism
By Deborah Gantos, Editor-In-Chief of Surplus Today
Someone asked me if it was easy being a writer and editor because I have had so much practice. The answer is: “No!” And no, “practice does not make perfect.” Yes, practice improves the quality of our work or accomplishments, but perfection, to me is very illusive. What standards are used to decide what is perfect? Setting standards means judging, and judging is, at best, just one person’s opinion about what is good and not good. Judging our own work becomes even more problematic. Some of us are brutally critical of what we produce. We are labeled “perfectionists.”
Perhaps the answer to all this judging is to look for a more moderate approach. Many of us really struggle with self-criticism. I believe the answer to this is to be vigilant in continuously asking ourselves if expending a huge amount of time and energy is really worth it. Why not put forth our best efforts and then decide it is excellent and be done with it?
Recently, I have been trying to replace my perfectionist persona with a happier one by realizing I can set a quality standard, not an impossible one. We do not need to be a super star in everything we do, nor do we have to prove ourselves worthy to anyone else. I think the answer is finding a balance in trying to achieve tasks that are worthwhile and those that you do out of duty or because you “have to“ do them.
So my question to you is: How are you spending the finite amount of time you have on this planet? Do you continue traveling in a never-ending rut, going to work “to make the donuts?” How many things do you do because “we always do it this way?” How do you balance the things you “should” do and the things you like to do and that give you joy? I’d wager a guess that the duty roster far outweighs the fun roster.
Whew! I hope I have given you some things to think about. I see several themes in what I have just said. The first theme is about perfectionism and how it impedes us in living a more fulfilling and a more serene life. I have already addressed the perfectionist zombie, a term I deliberately use to emphasize the fact that this monster is very capable of being reborn at any weak moment.
The second theme is trying to be more mindful of how we spend each day. I challenge you to examine just what are you doing every day. Write down how you spend each hour of your day for one week. You don’t have to be a perfectionist about it. (Sorry, I could not resist!) Next, analyze the ratio of fun things, boring things and downright awful things. Are they in balance? Probably not. Next, write down a few ways you can improve the fun times with the other times. Finally, choose JUST ONE adjustment you can make today to achieve a better balance of work and enjoyment. You can take this even further by adding more adjustments so that the scale tips to a better, happier life. You will be delighted with the results.
One thing you can do to increase your enjoyment of something right now is to open your new copy of Surplus Today and read the fun articles that appeal to you. Then, read about things you could do that might improve your business or work life. But no matter what you do, find your joy and the rest becomes much easier to accomplish. Banish the perfectionist that lurks inside and enjoy more time doing what you love.