The Enemy of Perfection

The Enemy of Perfection


"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good" is a quote most attributed to Voltaire, the French philosopher and writer during the Age of Enlightenment. Variations of the sentiment have been espoused by philosophers and wise men (and women) throughout the ages. Like most great quotes, I think it stings when you read it because it's true. Progress can come to a stop in the quest for perfection. Many creatives can fall victim to this trap. What's the antidote? Just keep going.

This is the theme song I've been playing in my head a lot over recent weeks. In the process of relaunching this blog I've had to ignore the perfectionist pimps whispering in my ear who want me obsess over font sizes, color choices, and finding *just that right* image. Being a graphic designer, let me tell you, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. I'm such a visual person, I want everything to Be. Just. So. You know: perfect.

The problem is I don't have time to stress over every little detail. If you saw my list of goals I want to have completed by the end of the year you'd be asking if I have a magic wand and a few fairy god-mothers stashed around somewhere.

But nope, there's no "bippity-boppity-boo" miracle that is going to make any of the work I want to complete any faster, or easier. It's just taking good old fashioned grind and hustle. (and a fair amount of caffeine for me and dog chews to preoccupy Alton)

Perfection can halt progress

So what is a creative gal to do? What's worked best so far is keeping my eye on the prize. I keep my finish-line goals at the top of my head and don't allow myself to get bogged down in the details of design because I know that is just keeping me further from my goals. I also keep in mind that art and creativity is so subjective! What I may think looks awful, someone else may think looks really good. So I work until I reach a place of creative contentment, or, to put another way, simply good enough.

Last year I read the book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. I highly recommend it. One of the key take-aways I got from her lived experience is that at times we creatives take our work too seriously. We put it on a pedestal so high that we ourselves don't feel worthy of it's merit, never mind anyone else.

She offers up a different way to think about creativity. Rather than being responsible for the perfect existence of an artistic offering, we creatives are merely a conduit. And if we close ourselves off from being the person who for example, paints a portrait, writes an essay, sings a song, then the art will just find someone else to pass through. What I loved about this so much is that it takes the pressure off me to have to get it perfect, but rather, just get it done and out into the world.

I want to be a conduit. I won't shut myself off. I'll do the best I know how to do today. And I will welcome what tomorrow brings.

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