Nothing quite compares to the crippling sense of overwhelm that comes with being a perfectionist. This is something I feel I’ve struggled with for the majority of my life. I’m not sure when or how my perfectionist tendencies arose, they probably developed from some deeper emotional issues that were pushed aside and ignored instead of being dealt with. All I know is that being a perfectionist can be both a blessing and a curse. What I’ve noticed is that it becomes almost impossible to complete projects. I feel like I am always stuck in the development stage, never having enough time to complete a project to the quality that I feel is appropriate for the work. While working on personal projects with no deadline to strive towards I often never move past this production stage, I continue to change things over and over again trying to achieve perfection.
Knowing how and where to start the project also becomes difficult. I find it hard to break the project into manageable sized tasks as I often think of the project as a whole and want it to be perfect from the get go. This is when the mind goes into overdrive, just the idea of the project sends me into a state of shock and paralysis. How could I possibly complete the insurmountable amount of work to my standards in the time frame given?
Research can often be counter productive, the green-eyed monster within me tends to go into overdrive. I start comparing my half finished work to that of my peers and idols. Nothing stunts creativity faster than constant comparison and feelings of inadequacy. The ego takes control and all the inspiration and passion I felt before seems to slip away into the background. My mind focuses on all the reasons I can’t do it.
At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success. ― Michael Law
These are feeling I experience often, especially when I’m working on a creative project. It affects all aspects of my life, from my day job in design to my blogging and writing. Even simple tasks seem to fill me with a sense of overwhelm.
So I’ve learned to manage and control the feelings. Switching off from external distractions, taking a break from the outside world to really get to the heart of the matter. Living in the present moment and taking on each task as it arises, asking myself what it is I need to complete to be successful this very moment. Bringing my awareness to the present allows me to focus all my attention on the task at hand without feeling the need to control how the whole project will eventuate.
It’s a constant uphill battle but the more I work in this way the easier it becomes. I guess the most valuable lesson I’ve learned along the way is to just start where you can. Don’t worry too much about the outcome or the logistics of how you’ll get there, the important thing is to just begin in the present moment. From that moment you will be guided onto each following moment and opportunity, this will eventually lead you onto completion.