The endless search for perfection

I’m struck by the number of people I talk to who put things off, and off, and off waiting for the conditions to be perfect. I do wonder if I notice it more because I am one of those people? When I see it in others my immediate response is to ask — What does perfection mean to you? And how will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Perfection is both subjective and intangible. Our search for it is endless.

When it comes to making decisions (especially the big ones), those of us with perfectionist tendencies find ourselves wanting to be certain we’re making the right decision. Again, I fear we’re searching for something elusive. Which is why I like the concept of the M.F.D, or mostly fine decision, shared by Tim Herrera:

The M.F.D. is the minimum outcome you’re willing to accept as a consequence of a decision. It’s what you’d be perfectly fine with, rather than the outcome that would be perfect.

The M.F.D is the epitome of good enough. We can never know if the choice we make is the right one, because we’ll never know what would happen if we’d taken a different route.

The choice we have is to stand still, or to keep moving. It’s something expressed by Björk in this interview with the Creative Independent. When asked about how she knows when a project is done, she talks about what happened when she didn’t release anything for years – she felt stuck, or to use her exact words, “clogged up” – on the one hand she had perfect versions of her songs, but she’d lost her creative flow:

That’s more important, to sustain that flow, than to wait until things are perfect.

So, if like me you ever find yourself putting things off until you’re ready, or you’re certain of achieving perfection, here are some questions to ask:

  • What is perfection in this scenario?
  • What outcome am I willing to accept?
  • What do I gain, or lose, from doing nothing?
  • What do I gain, or lose, from doing something?

Featured image by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

about emma

I am a coach and facilitator helping people to pause, reflect and make conscious choices about what comes next. In my writing I explore themes of personal development, reflective practice and what it means to live well.