Are you a perfectionist? There are certainly areas of my life where I would like to be perfect, but I’m comfortable knowing that I cannot achieve it in everything all the time. The quest for perfection can be motivating or it can stop us from ever feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Not everything requires perfection all the time and taking a moment to establish whether what you are working on needs that level of attention or whether the cost of trying is just too high can make the difference between a good day and a miserable one.

Ask yourself:

  • Is perfection possible? Be realistic about what can be done. You might have to rely on others for work product or be required to follow suggestions with which you don’t agree. Assess the situation pragmatically.
  • Is perfection desirable? If you are an artist in any medium, perfection is not really your goal, making art is. In my artistic life, I take the imperfections in stride. After all, if I needed perfect every time, I could make a recording and just play it, but that is nothing like the excitement of live performance.
  • Is perfection worth the cost? Sure you might achieve perfection, if only you didn’t have to sleep or eat, but that is a high price to pay, especially at the holidays when you want to spend time with friends and family. And while you might achieve technical perfection, you might lose on creativity if you don’t keep your energy reserves full.
  • Is efficient and function more important than perfect? We’ve seen it in the Affordable Care Act website situation–what is needed is a site that works and works well. And quickly. Perfect could get in the way of what is truly needful under some circumstances.
  • Can I let go of perfection? If you are a perfectionist, you may have the most trouble with this one. Being able to walk away–even temporarily–when something has reached a good stopping place is a discipline worth fostering.

I’m grateful not to be a perfectionist. Except, of course, in music…and grammar…and spelling. Let me know if I missed anything!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative