I recently read a fascinating book called “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy”, written by a cognitive behavioral psychotherapist. One thing he said really resonated with me:
“If you are a perfectionist, you are guaranteed to be a loser in whatever you do.”
What he means is that you will never be able to live up to your standards. Because in reality, Perfectionism’s biggest ally is procrastination.
The author Mr. Burns has a really neat way of describing perfectionism:
“Think of it this way – there are two doors to enlightenment. One is marked “Perfectionism”, and the other is marked “Average”. The “Perfection” door is ornate, fancy and seductive. It temps you. […] The “Average” door seems drab and plain. Ugh! Who wants it?
So you try to go through the “Perfection” door and always discover a brick wall on the other side. As you insist on trying to break through, you only end up with a sore nose and a headache. On the other side of the “Average” door, in contrast, there’s a magic garden. But it may never have occurred to you to open this door to take a look!”
Mr. Burns (I couldn’t resist) suggests that we give perfectionism a break and try to be average for a day. I know! That sounds kind of… wrong, right? I can’t just do an average job at work, or… can I?
Well, Mr. Burns predicts that our day will be much more enjoyable and that, by the way, we’ll fail horribly at being average most of the time.
I have tried writing average blog posts and it was way more fun! It seems to take off the pressure and lets me focus on putting words on the page without the background noise of self-doubt.
Focusing on average allows me to produce more work – and that makes me happier than fretting over one project forever to get it just right.