You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous. Because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in... it's actually kind of tragic because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is. And there were a couple of years where I really struggled with that.
David Foster Wallace
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.
I have struggled with perfectionism and I think it's a really damaging thing in my own life. When we put that perfectionism on someone else, it just hurts relationships whereas grace and trusting someone else's heart is a really, really incredible and important part of any relationship.
Rebecca St. James
Perfectionism and optimalism are not distinct ways of being, an either-or choice, but rather they coexist in each person. And while we can move from perfectionism toward optimalism, we never fully leave perfectionism behind and never fully reach optimalism ahead. The optimalism ideal is not a distant shore to be reached but a distant star that guides us and can never be reached. As Carl Rogers pointed out, 'The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination
Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move forward. It is a loop-an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.
Perfectionism is really a manifestation of the belief that one's efforts are never good enough. Imagine: How many of the obstacles standing in your way are the product of your own imagination? What have you convinced yourself that you can't do? What limitations have you come to believe in? Your mind is very powerful and effective. Is it working for you, or against you?
perfectionism is a slow death. if everything were to turn out just like i would want it to, just like i would plan for it to, then i would never experience anything new; my life would be an endless repetition of stale successes. when i make a mistake i experience something unexpected.... when i have listened to my mistakes i have grown.
Be in beta. Do things badly. Abandon perfectionism. Following this advice can seem nearly impossible when pitted against our identity. But when we allow ourselves to go into the rapid iteration of trial and error, like a child learning to walk, the feel-good neurological response just may charm away the snake of a strangling ego.
The biggest challenge for me has been in coping with my perfectionism. I have a stiflingly hard time moving forward in a project if it's not 'just right' all along the way. The trap I so easily fall into is rewriting and rewriting the same scenes over and over to make them perfect, instead of continuing on into the wild unknown of the story.
I can relate to girls with self esteem issues because growing up in this industry there is the side of you that is obsessed with perfection. You want to please everyone because if you don't, you won't get the job. There is always someone prettier, smarter, or a better actor that you. You start to nit-pick everything. That perfectionism kicks in and it can take over your life if you let it. You have to get comfortable with yourself. Then, if you get the job, it is an added bonus.
Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived...Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation... Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.
Perfectionism, no less than isolationism or imperialism or power politics, may obstruct the paths to international peace. Let us not forget that the retreat to isolationism a quarter of a century ago was started not by a direct attack against international cooperation but against the alleged imperfections of the peace.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
I picture the vast realm of the sciences as an immense landscape scattered with patches of dark and light. The goal towards which we must work is either to extend the boundaries of the patches of light, or to increase their number. One of these tasks falls to the creative genius; the other requires a sort of sagacity combined with perfectionism.
Intense pain often pushed me to make changes. The pain of the eating disorder pushed me into recovering from eating-disordered behaviors, and then the emotional turmoil I experienced without those behaviors (not knowing how to cope with perfectionism, feelings, and life in general) took me even further, so that I ultimately found serenity.
So go marry someone, provided you're equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it's not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God's sake start making some decisions in your life. Don't wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God's will, so just go out and do something.
Oh, my God. What if you wake up some day, and you're 65 or 75, and you never got your novel or memoir written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools or oceans because your thighs were jiggly or you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.
Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don't use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate""perfectionism""an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success""an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved-line, constant pursuit.
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written, or you didn't go swimming in those warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.
Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground - you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.
While the opportunity to improve yourself and your situation is a great thing, our striving to build perfect lives seems to have morphed into perfectionism so focused on itself that we forget about others in the world. We work so hard to build the ultimate luxury sedan, to embody society's standard of beauty, and to achieve historical scientific breakthroughs that we conveniently forget our family members in other parts of the world who must walk miles each day in their only set of clothing for the opportunity to go to school.
If you're thinking, 'Great! I just need to be a superhero to fight perfectionism, ' I understand. Courage, compassion, and connection seem like big, lofty ideals. But in reality, they are daily practices that, when exercised enough, become these incredible gifts in our lives. And the good news is that our vulnerabilities are what force us to call upon these amazing tools. Because we're human and so beautifully imperfect, we get to practice using our tools on a daily basis. In this way, courage, compassion, and connection become gifts - the gifts of imperfection.
Just as God's love entered the world, thereby submitting to the misunderstanding and ambiguity that characterize everything worldly, so also Christian love does not exist anywhere but in the worldly, in an infinite variety of concrete worldly action, and subject to misunderstanding and condemnation. Every attempt to portray a Christianity of 'pure' love purged of worldly 'impurities' is a false purism and perfectionism that scorns God's becoming human and falls prey to the fate of all ideologies. God was not too pure to enter the world.
Was [Steve Jobs] smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. [... ] Like a pathfinder, he could absorb information, sniff the winds, and sense what lay ahead. Steve Jobs thus became the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. More than anyone else of his time, he made products that were completely innovative, combining the power of poetry and processors. With a ferocity that could make working with him as unsettling as it was inspiring, he also built the world's most creative company. And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology.
In the past, my brain could only compute perfection or failure-nothing in between. So words like competent, acceptable, satisfactory, and good enough fell into the failure category. Even above average meant failure if I received an 88 out of 100 percent on an exam, I felt that I failed. The fact is most things in life are not absolutes and have components of both good and bad. I used to think in absolute terms a lot: all, every, or never. I would all of the food (that is, binge), and then I would restrict every meal and to never eat again. This type of thinking extended outside of the food arena as well: I had to get all of the answers right on a test; I had to be in every extracurricular activity [... ] The 'if it's not perfect, I quit' approach to life is a treacherous way to live. [... ] I hadn't established a baseline of competence: What gets the job done? What is good enough? Finding good enough takes trial and error. For those of us who are perfectionists, the error part of trial and error can stop us dead in our tracks. We would rather keep chasing perfection than risk possibly making a mistake. I was able to change my behavior only when the pain of perfectionism became greater than the pain of making an error. [... ] Today good enough means that I'm okay just the way I am. I play my position in the world. I catch the ball when it is thrown my way. I don't always have to make the crowd go wild or get a standing ovation. It's good enough to just catch the ball or even to do my best to catch it. Good enough means that I finally enjoy playing the game.
There is a curious idea among unscientific men that in scientific writing there is a common plateau of perfectionism. Nothing could be more untrue. The reports of biologists are the measure, not of the science, but of the men themselves. There are as few scientific giants as any other kind. In some reports it is impossible, because of inept expression, to relate the descriptions to the living animals. In some papers collecting places are so mixed or ignored that the animals mentioned cannot be found at all. The same conditioning forces itself into specification as it does into any other kind of observation, and the same faults of carelessness will be found in scientific reports as in the witness chair of a criminal court. It has seemed sometimes that the little men in scientific work assumed the awe-fullness of a priesthood to hide their deficiencies, as the witch-doctor does with his stilts and high masks, as the priesthoods of all cults have, with secret or unfamiliar languages and symbols. It is usually found that only the little stuffy men object to what is called "popularization", by which they mean writing with a clarity understandable to one not familiar with the tricks and codes of the cult. We have not known a single great scientist who could not discourse freely and interestingly with a child. Can it be that the haters of clarity have nothing to say, have observed nothing, have no clear picture of even their own fields? A dull man seems to be a dull man no matter what his field, and of course it is the right of a dull scientist to protect himself with feathers and robes, emblems and degrees, as do other dull men who are potentates and grand imperial rulers of lodges of dull men.
Walk openly, Marian used to say. Love even the threat and the pain, feel yourself fully alive, cast a bold shadow, accept, accept. What we call evil is only a groping towards good, part of the trial and error by which we move toward the perfected consciousness... God is kind? Life is good? Nature never did betray the heart that loved her? Why the reward she received for living intensely and generously and trying to die with dignity? Why the horror at the bridge her last clear sight of earth?... I do not accept, I am not reconciled. But one thing she did. She taught me the stupidity of the attempt to withdraw and be free of trouble and harm... She said, 'You wondered what was in whale's milk. Now you know. Think of the force down there, just telling things to get born, just to be!' I had had no answer for her then. Now I might have one. Yes, think of it, I might say. And think how random and indiscriminate it is, think how helplessly we must submit, think how impossible it is to control or direct it. Think how often beauty and delicacy and grace are choked out by weeds. Think how endless and dubious is the progress from weed to flower. Even alive, she never convinced me with her advocacy of biological perfectionism. She never persuaded me to ignore, or look upon as merely hard pleasures, the evil that I felt in every blight and smut and pest in my garden- that I felt, for that matter, squatting like a toad on my own heart. Think of the force of life, yes, but think of the component of darkness in it. One of the things that's in whale's milk is the promise of pain and death. And so? Admitting what is so obvious, what then? Would I wipe Marion Catlin out of my unperfected consciousness if I could? Would I forgo the pleasure of her company to escape the bleakness of her loss? Would I go back to my own formula, which was twilight sleep, to evade the pain she brought with her? Not for a moment. And so even in the gnashing of my teeth, I acknowledge my conversion. It turns out to be for me as I once told her it would be for her daughter. I shall be richer all my life for this sorrow.