I don’t talk about punching things. I’m usually a gentle writer and thinker, but perfection pisses me off. It gets in the way of the best experiences, great creative work, potential relationships and self-improvement. Perfection reminds us that we are not good enough and that we will never do enough, have enough or be loved for exactly who we are.
Knowing that, I am sure you understand why I want to punch perfection in the face.
When I think about the artists that never share their work because they can’t get it just right, the mothers that never ask for help because they don’t want anyone to know that they don’t have it all figured out, the couples that never meet because one person didn’t have the perfect introduction, and the businesses that never get started for fear of imperfection, I go crazy.
Perfection can be paralyzing for some and a minor inconvenience for others, but unless we agree to punch perfection in the face, we will all miss out on so much.
How to Punch Perfection in the Face
- Look forward to pleasing the right people instead of all the people. It’s not your job to make everyone happy. Your ideas, words, and actions in life or work will never please everyone. Shift your expectations and intentions and revel in the beauty of offering something that makes one person smile.
- Ask for help. You can’t do it all and if you really want to enjoy life, you don’t want to do it all. Offer your advice and skills to others, and lean back for support where you need it most. Hire professionals. Call friends. Email experts. You are not alone.
- Stop Comparing. Your life experience is as unique as your definition of success. When you can truly stop comparing, you can figure out what that definition is. You can take time to ask important questions like “What really makes me happy?” “What will I contribute to the world?” “What is enough for me?”
- Do less. My dad always told me never to order pizza at a seafood restaurant or seafood at a pizza place. Specialize in one thing or a few things instead of trying to be good at everything.
- Support imperfection. Hold the constructive criticism and be gentler with the people around you. Celebrate the best qualities in your loved ones and identify what’s most important. We are the toughest on the people we love the most. They deserve better.
- Give yourself permission to fall apart. We admire composure and work to hold it all together all the time. If you need to lay down and cry, throw a temper tantrum or write about punching things, do it. Embrace your human nature to rise and fall and fail and get back up.
- Do it anyway. You are not perfect. Your work isn’t perfect. Your life isn’t perfect. So what? Go on … jump in.
When I asked some of my friends how they punch perfection in the face, here is what they had to say …
Paul Jarvis, Author of Everything I Know
What I learned through 16 years of web designing and 3 years of writing is that perfectionism and launching run in opposite directions. You can’t have both and I want one more than the other.
Rob Young, Consultant and Founder of The Hundred Dollar Club
I tend to find perfection only becomes a problem when I’m debating whether something is good enough to launch to the public or it’s intended audience, so that’s my focus. To help me punch it in the face, I remind myself:1% of anything, is better than 100% of nothing – you have to put something out there before you can get any return on it. If you’re waiting for perfection, then the very desire to do the best you can is preventing you from getting any results at all.
Brooke Berman, Playwright and Author of No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments
I don’t believe in perfection! Honestly. And I’m easier on myself as a writer than I am as a mom or a human. I believe in imperfect work — I believe in sending things out for feedback as soon as they’re finished. I err on the side of “hasty.” But then, as a playwright, I’m lucky because whatever I write will go through a development process — feedback from actors, from theaters; I’ll get to hear it aloud and refine and rewrite until production. But in general, I think a piece of writing can be imperfect for a time. I wish I could find the same grace in other areas of my life.
Andy Chirch, Consultant turning dreaming into doing at Prolificate
I finally punched perfection in the face – or broke out of ‘perfection prison’ and actually did it. I left an unsatisfying job, started a consulting business and am writing the book I’ve always known I could. For years this idea had languished in my mind, on bits of paper, and journal entries on my laptop because it wasn’t “perfect” yet. Now that I’ve let go of the need for it to be perfect, it’s no longer an idea. It is reality. Instead of working on someone else’s dream, I get to make my own and it feels amazing.
Tammy Strobel, from Rowdy Kittens and Author of You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)
This is such a difficult question because it’s a constant struggle for me. If I don’t strive for perfection I feel like I’m not trying hard enough. In our workaholic culture the term “good enough” has a connotation for ineffectiveness. For example, I’ve been working on a blog post for the last few weeks on car ownership. It isn’t done yet because I keep trying to make the essay perfect and that isn’t helping. To combat perfection I give myself deadlines. I will publish my post this week, whether it’s perfect or not. Giving myself deadlines helps curb my perfectionist tendency.
Leonard Cohen sang “Ring the bells that still can ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything,That’s how the light gets in.”
We need less perfection and more light.
I am so grateful that I am not perfect. The opposite of perfection is not flawed or broken. The opposite of perfection is freedom; massive, crazy, unbelievable freedom.
I originally wrote this for bemorewithless.com and am happy to share it with Medium.