Why it Helps to Release Perfectionism and Embrace Being: Good Enough.

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In our fast paced world, people are becoming increasingly stressed, overwhelmed and multitasked.
Attention can be pulled in so many directions that it's hard to be fully present for anything. Distraction is at an all time high.

Many people are also suffering stress related issues such as insomnia, cravings, racing thoughts and even burnout. The most balanced person can become overstimulated at the hectic pace. How can we keep up with everything and stay sane?

A long time ago, I learned two words with the power to ease the internal pressure. Two words that allowed me to let go of perfectionism and fear of failure. Two words to remind me that, 'to err is human.'

Good Enough

Those two words were: Good enough. At the time I was a new mum, trying to be perfect, and failing because babies are inherently imperfect and don't know when to sleep. But we made it. Her survival to adulthood and ability to happily lead her own life shows that I did end up being a good enough mum, even when some days were really crap and I made mistakes. 
But lately, I've needed to remember the big picture perspective that parenting brings, and apply the 'good enough' principle to my creative work.

I Had Reached Burnout

Although I had high hopes of catching up with EVERYTHING in January, the reality was complete loss of motivation and six weeks on the couch wondering WTF was going on. I even emailed my (grateful) editor and suggested she not hurry with my proofreading job. I had reached burnout. Again!
The fact is, I can’t be great at everything, all the time. Trying to keep up with a long 'to-do list' can scatter my energy in too many directions, one of those directions being ‘procrasti-land.’ Sometimes I have to recognise when work feels like ‘wading through mud.’ It might mean scaling some tasks back, or even taking a month off. And that might have to be good enough.

Expecting to Get Everything Right Stacks On the Pressure

Of course we want to do our best and be consistent, but expecting to get everything right all the time stacks on the pressure. It can end in tears and disappointment when something goes wrong; or everything can end up coming to a stand-still, stuck in procrastination and inaction. 
When someone's life or property is in your hands, it's not the time for a 'good enough will do' attitude. But rarely is this the case for many of us. Mostly, we can chill out a bit on the super-human expectations, at least long enough to have a bit of a break over summer, or whatever.

Avoid Firing Off Emails in a Bad Mood

Choosing areas of life that can benefit from ’good enough’ is easy. Just look for the stress spots that wind up your pressure gauge. For me it’s emails. So on days when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed I might avoid emails altogether, or just scan the most important ones. It's usually better to avoid firing off emails in a bad mood.
Also, I recently gave myself permission to scan read. This allowed me to finish a not so great novel and get on with reading a better one.
That doesn’t mean be sloppy and do bad work. For writers, it means prioritising the things that need to be really polished, like manuscripts and published work. You can cut corners on less important work, like recreational reading, non-urgent emails and social networking. I’ve started flagging my emails, so I can file non-urgent emails away from my inbox without forgetting them. 

Ask Yourself the Following

To limit perfectionism and allow good enough, ask yourself the following:
  •      How good does this need to be?
  •      How important is it?
  •      Does this issue require crisis action?
  •      Can things be pulled back a notch or delayed?
  •      Will anyone else be affected?
  •      Will good enough do?
  •      Might your expectations be more than human?
Finally, if you find it hard to let go of perfectionism, just remember that great evolutionary changes have occurred due to genetic ‘mistakes.’ 
Note: This blog post means that not only have I been able to get back to work, but also back to study. This piece doubles as an assignment for my Content Writing Course. I was going to complete the online, self-paced course over a few weeks, but now I’ve decided that since I have access to the course for a whole year, one piece a month is probably good enough.

(Also, copying from MS Word into Blogger doesn't work well. Rather than retype the whole thing, I shall apply the 'good enough' principle to the fonts in this blog post.) 
Leanne Margaret © 2019


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