How to attain "perfection"

I am a perfectionist in the deepest darkest part of my being. Lots of people claim to be perfectionists, I mean, the most overused answer to any job interview "What is your greatest challenge/weakness?" question is "I'm a perfectionist". Why? Because it means that you overwork and are willing to be overworked. It also, on a less ominous note, boasts of attention to detail, ambition to be the best, etc, etc, blah blah blah... 

 If this touches a part of your heart, you may just be a perfectionist.

If this touches a part of your heart, you may just be a perfectionist.

Now, you may indeed be a perfectionist. If you get anxiety from the mere idea of completing a project (not the work involved, just the actual point where you have to put down your tools and look at what you have created and then let it go) or releasing any part of yourself into the world (be it your masterpiece or your opinion on where your friends should eat out this Saturday) welcome home! I am sitting between 10 drafts of posts (that are complete RIGHT NOW) and bomb diggity , but they have sat for months waiting for me to get the courage up to post them. 

So, how do you overcome this? Now, like I said, I still have those posts, so I would be a bit of a charlatan to claim I have an elixir of wisdom and awesomeness, but I am trying (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this). I have 3 pearls of wisdom that have got me here so far:

1) Everything you do is a competency and a skill that you are building up. No-one is just born with the magical ability to take critique, gracefully accept compliments and brush off criticism like a boss. Nope. You have to build them up. The kicker, practice is the only way that you can do this. Yes, to learn how to block the blows, you have to jump into the ring and take the punches first. The good thing is that, with time, practice does make "perfect". On a side note, try to stop using the word "perfect", it sets an unattainable goal that is disguised as attainable.

2) The adage of practice makes perfect is true. There is this absolute legend of a person, Malcolm Gladwell, who explains that every skill can be "perfected" within 10,000 hours. Yes, that is a long time, but from the time that you are a beginner to the time that you are "competent" the learning curve is steep and that means that you will be able to see your progress. While, my favourite trick is to throw away anything that I don't think is my best work, to see this progress you must must must keep your growth documented. Whether it be before and after shots, or a journal or any other creative way of recording your hard work, you can't always see how far you have come day by day. So keep your first attempts and remind yourself, that at first, everyone has to be a beginner until you can be competent enough to enjoy it and motivate yourself to finish the rest of those hours. Check out this awesome TEDx talk to watch more about this idea.

3) Embrace the 80/20 rule. This one is particularly hard for a perfectionist to hear, but is possibly the point I use the most. Instead of waiting until you are 100% happy to release something into the world, release it when you are 80% happy. The last 20% is wasted time that makes no measurable difference to your output. For a perfectionist, take heart, because, as critical of your work as you are, your 80% is still pretty amazing stuff. Then, and this is crucial, do not think about it once you have let it go! Seriously, let it go. 

...great people do things before they are ready.
— Amy Poehler

Finally, this quote is from Amy Poehler's book Yes Please and changed my life a lottle (it's like a little, but a lot):

 

 

 

Good luck and go do things, even if you are anxious. You can do the thing!