It’s got to be perfect

MountainIt’s taken me about seven months to write this blog post. Seven months! Why? Because, for some reason, even though I have two personal blogs already, this one felt BIG. The business blog – it’s a big one, right? I need to connect with you, to show what I can do, how well I can do it and why you should come back for more… The website? I just got on with it, got it up and made some tweaks (and am still making tweaks) along the way.

The blog just felt like a bit of a mountain. One that I didn’t want to climb unless I could do so perfectly.

I’m a recovering perfectionist

That’s my story. Well, part of it anyway. I used to be quite proud of my perfectionism and when I first started looking for work (we’re going back quite a bit here!), I even mentioned it as a strength, not realising that an astute employer would absolutely see this as a weakness. Why? Because perfectionism often translates into procrastination, which means either that nothing gets done or that what does get done creates so much stress that it requires a bit of a lie down afterwards.

Take this post, for example

I wrote my first blog post ages ago. In my head. I don’t remember what I had intended to write about but it wasn’t this! What I do remember, is thinking, ‘That’s not quite right’. What I actually meant was, ‘it’s not perfect’ (and it had to be perfect!). So I brainstormed (on paper), drafted and re-drafted different posts (again, only in my head), fiddled about with my website, asked people for advice and generally did everything except write the thing!

Perfectionism = Procrastination

Not always but often. Wait until something is ‘just right’ and it might never get done. I still like things to be done well (and that attention to detail is handy as a writer!) but the key word here is done. Faffing about with minor details never gets anything done.

It has to be perfect... Hasn't it? Has it not..? Has it..?I can still slip back into perfectionist/procrastinator mode when I’m doing something new and scary – stepping outside of my comfort zone can bring some of my old stories back from time to time – but the difference now is that I know these stories and I can remind myself that I have changed them. ‘I’m a perfectionist’ is no longer my story. This blog post? I had a word with myself and one afternoon when my son fell asleep I opened the laptop, wrote it in 20 minutes, came back to it a day later and posted it. It might not be perfect, but it’s done.

Are you a perfectionist? What do you want to do that you still haven’t got round to because you’re waiting for everything to be perfect? What would it be like if you just went ahead and started anyway? Do share your stories in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

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11 thoughts on “It’s got to be perfect

  1. Yes *raises hand* I’m a recovering perfectionist for sure! I still fall into the perfectionism as procrastination from time to time so can totally relate to your article. SOooooooo glad you took the plunge and decided to share this with us -it looks pretty perfect to me 🙂

  2. It’s a great post – well done for jumping over the perfectionist hurdle and getting it written! I love the term ‘recovering perfectionist’ – a dash of perfectionism is good but you’re right, it can stop you from getting things done if you’re not careful. I’m trying to be less perfectionist about grammar in my blog commenting/FB messages etc because being careful to get it ‘right’ takes up so much time and I don’t have much to spare. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting – this is a fab, thought-provoking post xx

    • Hi Maddy, thanks for commenting! Glad you could relate. I know what you mean about commenting, FB messages etc. The time it would take to proofread what we say on all those channels..! It can be tempting though, sometimes!

  3. Great post Rachael. You’re right, things don’t have to be perfect, in fact perfection is near impossible. I have been writing a novel for years and trying to make it perfect is what has stopped me from finishing it. Like you said, perfection only leads to procrastination. Glad you got this post done Rachael. xxx

    • Yes, it’s an impossible ideal isn’t it? And yet… Good luck with your novel! Glad to have ‘met’ you to, through #whatimwriting

  4. glad to chance on your blog. Through Morgan prince on twitter. I like your authentic view of how it is to blog. I feel like this many times and will still write but always in the draft mode. Until it feels quite right and then I click on “publish”. 😉

  5. This. This and more this. It creeps into everything I do and stops me doing stuff I might not be very good at because I might not be very good at them…
    It’s a hard lesson to learn and the only way to learn it is to recognise the warning signs and fix it. Without procrastination. Yikes! Well done for getting there x

    • Hi there Chrissie! Yes, I think this is one of those ongoing lessons… Even when you’ve cracked it, it can still pop up and bite you on the bum some days! But of course I agree, recognising the warning signs helps and a few people have said to me that ‘done [as opposed to not done!] is better than perfect’ – it’s a mantra I repeat when I find myself falling into the perfectionism/procrastination trap. I am now repeating it as I write my next blog post for later today!

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