I’m a perfectionist. Shocker, huh? It keeps me from trying new things, and from completing the things I do try. Fear of failure.
A story in the NY Times today (actually an excerpt from the book Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong by Alina Tugend) captures it pretty well-
… they cannot get crucial feedback — feedback that would both stop them from making similar mistakes in the future and make them realize that it is not a disaster — because they won’t risk punishment or alienation for a blunder. And such a drive for perfection takes a heavy psychological toll, because every flaw, no matter how small, is cause for agony.
Ok, I wouldn’t use the word agony. Frustration works, though. You may (or may not) have noticed that this blog has been nearly silent, aside from the photos I post now and then. Part of that is by design, but the fact is that I’ve written and re-written— and then deleted— countless posts over the past few months because they didn’t meet the internal editor that sits in my brain. It’s not just the blog, either. I’m avoiding other projects, even little things like selling a bunch of the perfectly good but unnecessary crap we’ve collected over the years. Easy thing right? But I want to do it right. I want to make sure I get the best price I can with the least amount of effort. Since I’m not confident that I can… I do nothing.
I’ve fought off the perfectionist monster before, but I’ve fallen back into bad habits.
Side by side with the fear of failure sits the fear of being made a fool of, or being taken advantage of. I’m horribly cynical but I’ve been using that cynicsm as a crutch, something that can excuse me from putting myself out there and taking risks.
Which all leads to this: I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and work on a project that may or may not succeed. I may spend a couple months working long hours, and finding that A) it just doesn’t have legs or B) I’m being taken advantage of with false promises. But I’ve got to break out of this perfectionist cycle, and this is as good a place to start as any.
Here goes nothin!