I was thinking the other day about the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect. It was triggered by 2 friends who are taking on new voluntary roles. The first was apologising in advance for possibly messing up. I don't think anyone who knows him thinks he'll mess up, but that was quite a big concern of his. I then was thinking, in contrast, of another friend who reminds us that she is still learning her role and will not be perfect yet. And then she does the best that she can. I used to be a perfectionist. I hold my hands up to this. I'd be proud of the quality of my work. I'd love to hear compliments about it. However, the flip-side was that I'd take ages to get anything finished and I'd often procrastinate if I wasn't sure it would be perfect enough, so sometimes the task wouldn't get done at all. And I'd carry around this ever growing list of things to do, which put extra stress on me. Now I'm not advocating that we don't do our best, but our best will vary according to not only our ability, but also our current level of experience, how we're feeling that day, and what other pressures we have going on in our lives. There are times when perfection is relevant - if you are a surgeon or operating dangerous machinery, for example. However how I design my business cards really isn't one of them; it's more like a journey, each version can be a little bit different as I evolve my ideas and experience. It's also good to think of where we'd be if, as babies, we didn't risk failure in learning to walk and talk. How would it be if we looked at the baby next to us who was more developed in these skills and decided it wasn't worth us bothering as we couldn't do it right now. It seems a ridiculous notion, but many people do exactly this as adults. So, don't let the fear of perceived failure, put extra pressure on you, or stop you doing something. Be honest with people as to your experience and do the best you can.
I don't think there's a definitive answer to this. Which obviously offends my perfectionist streak? Ever since I was a child I liked the questions that had a right/wrong answer. I excelled at maths and science and failed miserably at English. The thing about maths is that you can get the answer perfectly correct. As I've got older, I've translated that desire for perfection onto other areas of my life; craft projects, employment tasks and more recently my own business. I want it to be perfect or else I don't want to play. I've done a lot of soul searching on this - it all comes from my parents, of course. My father is a complete perfectionist - the type that offers unsolicited advice whenever he sees an area of potential improvement. My mother is an amazing seamstress and her work is actually technically perfect - a hard act to follow. It takes a long while to get things perfect, which is fine if it's a hobby, but I forget how many hours I've wasted wondering to myself if an advert is perfect enough to bring me in clients rather than just sending it off. Now, please believe me when I say, I don't always believe perfectionism is bad. If I was unfortunate to need some kind of surgery, I'd hope that the surgeon was a perfectionist of the highest order, but so often we carry this over to the rest of our lives and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. I guess the key is to know when it's important and when it's not. It's also important to work with our own nature. It's in my mum's nature to spend a lot of time working on her latest quilt. She loves the process and it pays off with the results she gets. I like producing a finished product, but I get bored if it takes too long, so I'm better sacrificing a bit of quality for the overall enjoyment and the likelihood of finishing it. I am like my father in that I see errors and imperfections in other's work. Having grown up with his negative criticism, I'm now aware of how this feels. So I can either balance it out with positive feedback, or I can just decide that it's not that important and let it go. And it's amazingly liberating to finally realise that in everyday life, "good enough" is often good enough. So having dithered for the last few days as to whether this was a good subject for a blog post, I've gone ahead and written it anyway. You can decide.