Hands up all the perfectionists!
No, no; far too many of you to count; put your hands down again. Right: hands up those of you who are not perfectionists. Oh, that’s easier. Let me see, nine, ten, eleven – and one right at the back, that’s the round dozen. This blog is not aimed at you, although you may read it and preen yourself a little.
So, hello everyone. My name’s Mary and I’m a perfectionist.
When I was younger, I used to think this trait was a strength. I can bring what one of my Moodscope Buddies calls “Ferocious Focus” to tasks; I pay attention to minute details; I don’t just want to get things right; I want them perfect. One of the reasons I love cardmaking and papercraft is the precision required to create the perfect card. The human eye can detect a split millimetre of misalignment. Each card is small in itself – a discrete piece of craftsmanship – and so I can bring my desire for perfection to each one. And, yes, I have learned now to accept the occasional mistake and, more importantly, how to hide that mistake so it becomes a “happy accident.”
In the rest of life, perfectionism is a hinderance. You may have heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good,” and this is very true. Perfectionism often means tasks are not even started. Perfectionism leads to procrastination, despair and just giving up.
In my last bout of depression, I wailed to my buddies about how dirty my house was, as I had no energy for cleaning. One of them promptly popped round on his motorbike to lend me the robotic vacuum cleaner he and his wife had but rarely used. My husband was horrified: it didn’t do a proper job! He could do a far more thorough clean in half the time! The point was, however, he did not have the time to do that proper job, and I did not have the energy. The sweet little robotic vacuum cleaner just trundled around, bumping gently into things and humming to itself and, at the end of an hour or so, the floors were noticeably cleaner. No – they were not perfectly clean, but they were a lot better than they had been.
Most of you will also have heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule. This holds that you get 80% of your output for 20% of your input. I find this is true with my blogs here. I write them in twenty minutes or so. Then, if I am not disciplined, I will take another hour at least, proof-reading, changing the odd word or phrase, changing it back to the original and finally taking it out altogether. While it’s a matter of pride that Caroline rarely needs to edit my blogs (she does sometimes), I’ve learned to just let the words be, rather than agonising over every little comma and semicolon.
Good enough really is good enough.
A Moodscope member.