Perfectionism Can Suck the Life Out of You. It Did Me.

This is how I’m combating my lifetime of perfectionist issues with my music recording project.

Michelle Monet
Nov 30, 2019 · 7 min read
Photo by Thomas Le on Unsplash

This idea came to me as I began rehearsing music again a month ago. Why?

1. Because I want to challenge myself.

2. Because there are so many songs I love that I’ve always wanted to record but didn’t have the time or money.

3. Because I have a state of the art recording studio in my house now.

4. I have the time and inspiration to do it.

5. Because… I can.

In the past, I’ve stopped myself (many times) because of perfectionist issues when it comes to my music. I know I am a ‘recovering perfectionist’. My goal for 2020 is to look at this perfectionist stuff squarely in the face and finally overcome it! Hey, there’s NO TIME LIKE NOW!

I decided it will help my perfectionist tendencies if I make this recording project a bit like a game.

Instead of tweaking and tweaking and remixing and remixing, redoing, refining, reanalyzing, rethinking — and doing take after take after take after TAKE (until I’m blue in the face trying to get it ‘just so’!! ) what will help me get it DONE is if I know I have to move on to the next song —

— quickly.

I know if I try to get every note perfect that will slow down the process and frustrate me. I might not get anything done!

There will always be a note or two I can sing ‘better’. It’s just like writing but there’s a point where you must just say:



I really want it DONE — not perfect!

100 songs DONE imperfectly is my goal. That’s about 2 songs per week.

So, this is the strategy I’ve come up with: To trick my brain into moving on quickly to the next song on my list.

This might sound silly to you but it might just work great for me. I feel it might be a solution to help me deal with my perfectionism issues as I begin this recording project.

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” — John Steinbeck

Speaking of perfectionism, last week I saw an NFL football player interviewed about the anxiety he got from his perfectionist issues. He was recently offered a huge NFL contract and a massive salary. He saw stories in the papers about how he was the ‘BEST PLAYER TO EVER play’ in this position etc.

He said it was nice to read all those glowing comments but he also felt major anxiety about it. Anxiety about a huge salary and a huge contract? How can that be?

He explained, “…soooo much is expected of me now which makes me feel extreme panic! I mean, what if I can’t live up to all the expectations?? It’s so much pressure to be held up to those huge standards!”

So, the pressure of having to be perfect made him freeze up so much so that he almost couldn’t play at all! He said “I couldn’t be as perfect as my teammates and coaches wanted me to be. I didn’t want to let them all down!”

He developed an extreme case of anxiety.

I appreciated his openness.

Singer Adele also admitted similar anxieties after her first huge successful album. She went through years of debilitating stage fright. She didn’t even want to perform live anymore. I’ve written about this before here:

Also, Barbra Streisand stopped performing live for about 20 years after she forgot the lyrics to a few of her most popular songs at a concert in Central Park in 1969. She was such a perfectionist that she couldn’t forgive herself for forgetting the lyrics to her own songs.

She took a 26 year hiatus from live concerts, although she still did studio albums.

I can relate to all of this.

Now that I know I have this perfectionist stuff going on in my head that’s the first step to tackling it! We must know our shit! I’m glad I made a plan to combat it.

I’m well aware of my inner perfectionist/critic, who could be a combination of my dad, the bullies at Jr. High School and my ex-husband. This inner critical voice has tried to take me down with comments like,

‘…well it cant possibly sound as GREAT as you think it will…so don’t bother..”

“It’s never gonna be perfect enough!”

I equate it to my 2 years of writing here on Medium.

I’ve developed a great disciplined steady habit. I don’t wait for perfection (as you might be able to tell. ha-ha!) I opt for getting it done. That‘s how I’ve chosen to write here and it’s worked well for me — imperfectly , but done. Elizabeth Gilbert said, “DONE is better than perfect” which has truly been my motto since beginning my daily writing habit on Medium.

I know I’ve written some clunkers in the 2 years, and I’ve been fine with it. I know its part of the writing life. You gotta have some bombs aka gutter balls, as I wrote in this story:

Years ago when I was singing in Las Vegas I went to an expensive recording studio to do a 9 song recording. I recall I had a very tiny budget. I had to sing FAST because it was an hourly-rate studio. I didn’t have time or finances for second takes. I got 9 songs done in a very short time. I think it was 5 hours total. Ironically I titled that album First Take. Some say it turned out damn good.

THIS Is what my plan is now:

I think I like this plan and can stick to it. YEA!

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

“Perfectionism is just fear in high heel shoes.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…” — Paul Arden

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life” — Anne Lamott

“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” — Michael Law

“Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.” — Rebecca Wells

“Perfectionism doesn’t believe in practice shots. It doesn’t believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly — and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner’s work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn’t know how to say, “Good try,” or “Job well done.” The critic does not believe in creative glee — or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.” — Julia Cameron

“There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.” — Shannon L. Alder

“Embrace being perfectly imperfect. Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself, you’ll be happier.” — Roy Bennett

“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. The beginning is just that — a beginning. Surrender your desire to do it flawlessly on the first try. It’s not possible. Learn to learn. Learn to fail. Learn to learn from failing. And begin today. Begin now. Stop waiting.” — Vironika Tugaleva

“In the end, perfection is just a concept — an impossibility we use to torture ourselves and that contradicts nature.” — Guillermo del Toro

“Your darkest moments are not meant to be swept under the carpet, hidden from the world in the silent pursuit of perfection. The darkness you’ve overcome is your ticket into leadership. It’s what you’re meant to light up in the world.” — Vironika Tugaleva

“If you wait for things to be perfect, you walk away with nothing. Just jump in and get started.” — Jennifer Ritchie Payette

So, I’m ready. Maybe you have a goal you want to accomplish this year. It might help you to try doing it without the perfection.

Hey, who knows, I might even be able to balance my writing memoir and Medium with this too. Balance is another goal!

Thanks for reading.


Music Voices

Music Haven — Music counts, speaks and matters — Curving your soul’s arch

Michelle Monet

Written by

Musician. Author. Poet. Seeker. Currently writing showbiz memoir and Broadway style Musical. Contact me at

Music Voices

Music Haven — Music counts, speaks and matters — Curving your soul’s arch

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