Letting go of perfection

by abhirama

Being a perfectionist is all the rage these days. Perfectionism has a flip dark side to it which tends to get glossed over.

Getting started on some activity. Perfectionism acts as a hindrance to starting something new. There are many a times where you know that you do not have enough bandwidth to dedicate to an activity that you do not even start on it. Your subconscious has been trained to reject any activity whose outcome it foresees as not meeting the unusual high standards it is used to.  Hence, you do not even start on it. When you face this sort of situation, reason with your brain saying I know that I might not ace this but I want to do it just for the fun of it. There is no dictum that says you have to be on top in each and everything. Many a times, the fun in doing something beats the hell out of the outcome.

Prioritization. Take for example that you have been handed a project which is rotten at the roots and you have been tasked with fixing it. The rot is so deep that it permeates each and every aspect of the project. Being the perfectionist that you are, you want to fix everything all at once which is humanly not possible given the extent of the screw up. Hence you become dejected and sour and loose sight of the original goal, of fixing it. The right way to solve this is to tell yourself that little drops of water make a mighty ocean. List out all the ass backward shit happening and prioritize on what needs to be fixed immediately and get to task on it. Yes, the other nonsense going around will irk you, but remind yourself that one day you will get to it and turn it around.

Finishing off things. You start off something with zeal, you are almost in sight of the finish line but you never seem to get there. Why? You are in an infinite loop of polishing and improving to meet the unusual high standards of your own expectations. The question to ask is, is the time you invest in bettering giving diminishing returns? Are the improvements making any difference other than to keep yourself at peace? If the answer is yes, just be done with it.

Being a perfectionist is good, but as with anything, do not take it to an extreme. There is a saying in Hindu philosophy, even the nectar of life, if taken in extremes is poisonous.

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