Surprising Lessons from Releasing My Obsession With Perfection


As some of you know, I’m participating in a 10-day blogging challenge. When I learned today’s challenge was to write about Procrastination, I thought, piece of cake. It just so happens that Procrastination is the bratty little sister of a dear old friend, Perfection.

When I was younger, I initially thought I could just hang out with Perfection. Then Procrastination started tagging along.

Procrastination brought a lot of drama and overwhelm to the relationship. But I chose to be accommodating; if they needed to be a team, so be it. It was worth it for Perfection.

But, after a while, Perfection started being elusive, oftentimes not showing up until the very last minute. Eventually, Procrastination became Perfection’s faithful stand-in.

I’m embarrassed to say it took a really long time to notice the pattern. I was so focused on Perfection, I couldn’t see that the more I pursued, the more frequently Procrastination showed up instead.

Eventually, I had places to go and things to do. So, I had to leave Perfection behind.

While letting go of Perfection was difficult, I was quite relieved to be free of Procrastination and the accompanying overwhelm.

However, this blog challenge has really tested my will to not fall off the Recovering Perfectionist wagon.

With a new challenge every 24 hours, my posts need to be published by the end of each day. To accomplish this, I’m releasing things that I would otherwise call my ‘Version 1.0’

To me that’s just one edit beyond the ugly first draft.

Normally, as part of my creative process, I step away from a draft for a while. I’ll set it aside, sometimes sleep on it, and come back to it fresh.

Needless to say, releasing a v1.0 is not a comfortable experience.

Each day, I just stop where I’m at because I’ve run out of time. I wish I had time to ask my friend, a self-proclaimed pedant, to find all my grammatical errors and polish up my points beforehand. But, as much as she likes to help, she likes sleep better. So instead I release my v1.0 after a quick, bleary-eyed review, and publish it. This feels as good as showing up to an interview with my hair still wet from the shower.

And sometimes, even after I’ve already hit ‘Publish’ a thought will come to me just before I drift off to sleep. “Oh! This paragraph would be better if…” and then I remember the darn thing is already out in the world.

Still, I’m committed to move forward in order to meet the daily deadline. This is one of those situations in which it’s better to take imperfect action than no action at all.

As I mentioned on Day 5, the Pomodoro technique and energy management are the guard rails I’ve added to help me stay on the wagon. It’s taking a while to integrate these, but I’m slowly seeing results.

I’ve learned two important lessons from this process:

Although I’m bypassing my normally rigorous review, I realize my efforts are good enough. Friends are actually liking them and sharing them. One even suggested I tweet one to Sir Richard Branson. I knew she was kidding, but still, people are getting some form of enjoyment.

I realize that the most I can ever hope to achieve is excellence. I should never have expected Perfection to emerge as the result of my efforts.

Instead, Perfection has always been available to me in ways that require no effort at all:in the warmth of a summer night, the glow of a full moon, and the dance of the stars across the sky. It’s in these places I can always find Perfection, never having to lift a finger, or worry about the reappearance of Procrastination.


This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7


Categories: Success

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