I was an English/Communications major in college, and as such, I was required to take some literature courses. These classes were not my strong suit.
I resisted and pouted through Lit I and II, and by the time I got to Lit III, I had had enough.
My professor assigned us the task of memorizing the first 18 lines of the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in the original middle English and recite it to him one by one in our best accent. It was a requirement to pass the course.
I asked the obligatory question, “When will I ever need to know this?”
“Some day when you’re sitting at a bar, you’ll be able to impress people with this,” was his answer.
Once I completed this ridiculous assignment, I gave myself full permission to phone in the rest of the semester and do the bare minimum to pass.
I finished the course with a D- and was happy to earn the credits needed for graduation.
Could I have applied myself more and squeezed out a C? Probably. But I couldn’t be bothered.
After all, both students who graduate at the top and bottom of the class in medical school are called “doctor.”
Sometimes you gotta be okay with good enough. Everything doesn’t have to be exceptional, outstanding, or dare I say, perfect.
There’s nothing like perfectionism to stop you from getting started. It can be a behavior rooted in an old belief and a handy excuse to procrastinate.
And it’s a clever form of protection.
You might think if you do everything perfectly you can avoid shame and embarrassment when instead it just keeps you stuck.
As Brené Brown wrote in The Gifts of Imperfection, “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?'”
If I had worried about what others would think about my D- grade in Lit III, I would have been even more tortured all semester. I chose to focus my striving in the subjects that mattered to me, such as journalism and writing.
And guess what? I still walked away with a degree.
So how is perfectionism getting in your way?
Where can you practice being satisfied with “good enough?”
Reply in the comments below and let me know!