Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

I often write notes to myself. Not because I'm insane (Well...partially because of that) but mostly because writing things down helps me remember  and seeing words in all caps is like a silent yell from my inner self. And it's really hard to ignore my inner self.

I have a few around my desk, "It's only impossible until it's not." and "Complaining doesn't change anything. Action does." 
In February I added "Perfection is the enemy of done." 

And as much as that note yells at me, it’s been a tough lesson to live. 

Confession: I have a thing for Perfection. Or better yet, my personal idea of Perfection. I want things to be as buttoned up, as impactful, and as shiny as possible. If it's a representation of me, it has to be quality. Like Barney's level quality.

However, my problem is that I go miles past Kmart in to Nordstrom territory - which is a very, very good place to be -  but keep pushing, fighting, stressing and obsessing to get to Barney's. And I wear myself the eff out getting there or beat myself up for having not made it all the way. 

And those times I do get there, I’m not sure the store windows are clean enough, or the AC is at the right temp. What if someone thinks the revolving door is completely idiotic? (These are just metaphors of course. I’m talking about work – creating an ad or writing a headline and all that jazz, not building a department store.)

It's not that I'm scared of failing. (Read Mistakes Won't Kill You) And I totally believe in trying as many options as you can and doing multiple versions, and editing and re-editing(Read Edit, then Edit Again

My issue is that I have a really hard time with things not being just right. Even if it’s at 98.9% right – I want that last 1.1%. So I often overthink, overedit, overanalyse, overwrite and pretty much drive myself mad.

Perfection is the enemy.

When you have an 8 a.m. deadline, Perfection will have you up all night, drinking unhealthy amounts of 5 Hour Energy and ignoring your body’s pleas for basic things like sleep and bathroom breaks.

When you need to present 3 versions of an ad, but the 2nd one isn’t just right, Perfection will have you staring at a screen until your eyes twitch. Perfection will make you have 4 browser tabs open, all on, combing through lists and lists of ways to say the same damn thing, agonizing over every little detail. Perfection will leave you with one really great version, one good version and one red-headed-step-child version.

Perfection will make you look bad in front of your boss and coworkers.
Perfection will make you late for meetings.
Perfection will leave you with stupid, amateurish mistakes (like its/it's.)
Perfection will make you doubt yourself, your abilities and your entire purpose in life.
Perfection will wear you supermarket-plastic-bag thin.
Perfection will keep you from actually getting shit done.
I’m not at all saying just focus on just getting to the finish line, whether or not it’s any good. I’m saying if you’re aiming for exceptional and end up with great – be thankful for great and move on. It's better to have something complete to show than something half-baked but beautiful. (Or worse, a very shiny turd.)

There will be time to edit and re-edit. Trust me, your boss, project managers, account people and client will find always something wrong with what you did, no matter how perfect you thought it was.

You’ll have time to go back and make it better. To Barneyfy it. And you’ll come to realize that sometimes, Nordstrom’s is exactly what they wanted. Or that your Nordstrom’s is someone else’s Barney’s.

What you never want to do is mis-manage your time, miss deadlines, drop the ball on things, burn yourself out or sacrifice your health in chasing this ideal of Perfection.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

No one expects you to be perfect. No one expects you to have Barney’s quality all the time. Or to never make a mistake. 

But  everyone expects you to deliver. To actually get shit done. And to do it well. (Whether at work or in school.)

If it's a good idea, that will show. Even if it's written on a napkin. It's better to finish it and have something to show, instead of spending hours polishing what turns out to be a very pretty Dollar General idea and realise you stressed yourself out for nothing. 

Focus on completing first, then get to finessing and polishing. Everyone is going to have feedback on what you do anyway. And you’re probably going to look back in a month and see how you can make it better. (Read Your Book WillNever Be Done.)

I’m going to take my own advice and finish this post. It’s a good post. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. (Read Be A Mess)

Wait. Let me just pull out my thesaurus and red pen and read it one more time.

No. I won't do it. I'm done.

Hi, my name is Neisha and I'm dangerously Virgo and an insatiable perfectionist. And I'm working on getting over myself.

Here's some notes you can write to yourself to help you get over yourself too.