If you look closely at the photo in this post, you’ll notice that the pretty little sticker I picked up at Seattle ReCreative is off-center relative to the hole punched in it. That neat little puncture shudda been squarely in the intersection of all those cute little squiggles forming the K. No, I didn’t pick K on purpose – the sticker came with a K, I took a K. The sticker is now quite stubbornly glued to the drawer of my Ikea Stenstorp kitchen cart, so it’s staying exactly where it is. Just a little dash of color I decided to add under the hardware – remember my mood knobs piece?
I’m betting this would render a perfectionist sleepless for days. Marla Cilley, The FlyLady, one of the most compassionate, expert, influential Organizers in the world, has this to say about perfectionism, p. 15, para. 1 of Sink Reflections:
P.S. When I used to be a stained glass artist, I would find myself paralyzed in perfectionism. So much so that I would make myself sick. It would take hundreds of hours to finish one piece. Finally I realized that I needed to make a few mistakes. Just do some things that the unskilled eye would never notice. This helped me to let go of my perfectionism and sell my work. I always had my signature mistake in the bottom right hand side. A piece of glass turned with the wrong side out.
Now, I’m going to argue that if you’re making a deliberate mistake, it’s not a mistake! But, extending her concept, can you teach yourself to let go of the mistakes you notice after-the-fact? Can you teach yourself to stop anticipating mistakes, so you can get started? You could of course first argue “What’s wrong with perfectionism?”
As Cilley understood instinctly, “There’s plenty wrong with perfectionism.” This compelling November 2003 American Psychological Association Monitor article (volume 34 No. 10) , The many faces of perfectionism, by staff writer Etienne Benson, goes into painful detail about the tremendous danger perfectionism can be to those who suffer from it. The researchers she quotes, including Dr. Randy Frost, a leading investigator of hoarding disorder, are convinced and convincing.
But as discouraging as the findings are about perfectionism, there are equally encouraging observations about overcoming perfectionism. The Greater Good Science Center, an institution for which I have profound respect, offers numerous perspectives on the challenge. Brene Brown sees imperfectionism as a gift. The American Institute of Stress offers resources as well. These are at least a start.
My hope that you can look at yourself, discover your im/perfectionism and carry on. And PS, hope can be a learned state of mind, and is teachable.