Why Good Enough And Done Is Better Than Perfect

I believe that writing is like any other artistic creation. A piece is never really done until the artist says it is—and any artist who shoots only for perfection often doesn’t even start, much less finish their art.   That’s why I can agree with Mark Zuckerman who has said, “Done is better than perfect.” But lately I’ve seen a number of other bloggers and writers complain on Facebook and their blogs that they are appalled at the poor writing, grammar and spelling that gets posted on the Internet these days. And I have to admit that a part of me, the perfectionist part of me, squirms a bit when I read that. Maybe because I know without question that my writing isn’t perfect, comments like those spark feelings of doubt or guilt around the merit of my work. So what is it about perfectionism, by a person who doesn’t believe she is a perfectionist, that has the power to make us question our gifts to the world?

These days there is an enormous amount of research in the study of perfectionism. While all of us would likely agree that striving for excellence in all our actions is a good thing, an obsession with perfection can grow incrementally until out of control. Professor Tracey Wade of the School of Psychology at Flinders University in South Australia defines “unhealthy perfectionism” as “high standards combined with brutal self-criticism”. Harvard psychologist and author Dr. Jeff Szymanski describes perfectionism as a phobia about making mistakes. That fear then paralyzes those afflicted and then often keeps them from doing anything they can’t do perfectly. This of course can then lead perfectionists to the thing they fear in the first place—failure.

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