Dismantling Perfectionism: One Win at a Time

The idea of ‘perfect’ is really quite unattainable. There is no one solution that is right for everyone at every time, and you can’t always make everyone happy. What’s perfect to one person may be completely wrong for another, and what’s acceptable to everyone leans towards bland with little personality. Being a high-achiever is one thing, but perfectionists desire an outcome that can never be achieved. So while others may have in the past, I would never call myself a perfectionist.

It’s not all or nothing. 

If you’re shooting for a goal, and you don’t make it, the perfectionist would say that’s a failure, but I say that you’ve still done a lot. Can you still be satisfied with what you’ve accomplished even if those very high goals aren't completely met? All-or-nothing thinking is really not helping anything, and I’d rather focus on what I HAVE been able to do and next steps to make it better next time. 

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" Wayne Gretzky

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Holding back for fear that it’s not perfect isn’t helpful, and is not contributing to the conversation. Just remember you can never meet that goal if you don’t actually put what you’ve created out there. The perfectionist can be so worried thinking anything less than perfect is failure, that they lose sight of the fact that doing nothing is worse. Being afraid to fail is completely understandable but I’d rather have a shot than none at all. 

Procrastination is the enemy of success.

Fearing failure, the perfectionist will worry so much about doing a task imperfectly that they can become frozen and not finish anything at all, or procrastinate until the last minute. This definitely happens to me and I just have to remind myself to take the next baby step. Maybe there’s some small task that I will start with, something easy that will get the ball rolling. Even if it’s just cleaning my desk or writing down my tasks, this can help. Being kind to myself and recognizing where I’m at, combined with one tiny goal that can be easily accomplished is usually enough to jump out of that procrastination station.

Having a critical eye and being detail-oriented is a very important part of graphic design, but being overly critical without celebrating accomplishments and being supportive is not the ticket. I’d rather find things to get excited about and feel good about, so those moments where being critical is necessary feel productive, not crushing or overwhelming. Let’s celebrate the wins. 

Celebrating without perfectionism.

Let’s do a little dance every time something goes out into the world, every time a deadline is met, every time trust is built, every time you make someone smile. Keep a journal of all the little successes because we all tend to forget them so quickly, like the time you made it though a tough call, or a long day, survived a really hard year, or are celebrating 20! Because done is better than perfect, let’s start noticing when you pulled something off, when you stuck to your guns, you got something done. And it’s ok to get excited about it, and to talk about your wins! We want to celebrate them with you.

Celebrate with Us!

Amanda Kaay
Written by Amanda Kaay
Design, illustrator, animator, these are just some of the hats I wear around here. I've painted since childhood and my lifelong passion for visual arts has never been stronger.

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