I am a perfectionist. I am also not perfect and will never be perfect. But I didn’t think my creativity would be lost during my strive for perfection. Over the past few years, I’ve started a few new things. One being founding a denim brand with my sister and another is pursuing my Master’s in CS. Both of these, while difficult, are also creative processes. In fact, I believe creativity is important in learning almost any new skill.
So, how does one lose their creativity? The same way you lose most things-without noticing. At first I thought I would come up with my own better ideas once I had mastered the fundamentals. With both my degree and business, there is a standard that means success. And while success is the goal, failure is also a part of the journey to attaining success. However, with the explosion of social media and obsession with documenting every part of our lives, I found myself on display and constantly consuming what others were doing, both of which lead to a perfectionist’s best friend, comparison.
PERFECTIONISM STOPS YOUR CREATIVE FLOW
Perfectionism interrupts your creative flow because you try to fix mistakes instead of embracing them or at least moving past them.
It wasn’t until I was stressing over a very difficult assignment that I realized I couldn’t think of a solution. I had no idea where to start and thought to myself, I’ll never get the right answer. I now realize that I should’ve been seeking a creative answer. Yes, we want to be correct, but without failures and innovation, how will we ever solve new problems?
Knowing that perfectionism affects my creativity isn’t enough. I wanted to know how I could prevent it so I found a few culprits.
Creativity Sucker: Social Media
Identifying the evils of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest isn’t new, however, I often used social media to inspire me. Isn’t #fitspo a great place to start if you want a new workout? But it’s tough to scroll through a feed without instantly getting distracted.
Soon, you’re constantly searching through pictures to find the best one. And as you do so, you’re comparing yourself as well as the posts to each new image. This is usually where my perfectionism comes in.
Creativity Destroyers: Fear and Insecurity
Fear holds me back from trying new things and it’s also been shown to shrink your brain and make you less creative. (As if you didn’t need more reasons to stop being afraid.) This one is tough because it’s not as easy as avoiding an app. Fear and insecurity have deeper roots in our lives, however, it might be worthwhile checking out how to confront them.
Creativity Thief: Comparison
As mentioned above, comparison comes hand in hand with perfectionism and can be more destructive since it has the potential to perpetuate unattainable goals.
THE ANTI-PERFECTIONISM PLAN
Finally, if we know perfectionism is hurting us, let’s make a plan to take action against it. Knowing the above, you can use your awareness to identify your perfectionist habits, limit your encounters with creativity inhibitors, and take steps to curb perfectionism in your life. The article I linked above and here is very informative and can help you get started in the right direction.
Here are a few things I’m going to do to fight my perfectionist tendencies:
1. Be more grateful. If you didn’t read the article above, it recommends using an “attitude of gratitude” to counteract the fearful thoughts. This helps me focus on the good already present in my life instead of trying to make my life more perfect.
2. Talk it out. Having meaningful and open conversations with the people in my life helps me stay present which reduces my desire to think forward about fixing things. And if you feel comfortable, talking to others about perfectionist behavior can be therapeutic and less isolating since there are so many people that feel this way.
3. Give yourself some space. Maybe there are things or aspects of our lives that we want to be perfect. Taking a break from these things and doing something that has less pressure on it may be way to break the cycle. I also recommend laughing at yourself. It lightens the mood and brings the focus to something I believe is more important than success-happiness.
4. Finally, I’m not a professional, but I do recommend getting in touch with one. There are tons of helpful, credited resources out there. Therapy has helped me more than I could have ever imagined, and I would gladly chat about anything I wrote here or mental health in general.Well, there you have it! This was an important realization for me because a habit I thought was helping me become better was actually hurting me. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!