Perfection is an Illusion

Perfection is an Illusion
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP / Unsplash

When I started this blog, I had no real objective. The motivation was simple: to get thoughts from my head to screen. As Derek Sivers put it, it’s better to create more than consume. I wanted to say something valuable to myself. And if others got something out of it, all the better.

Along the early writing journey, I was consistent. I made personal commitments to publish a post once per week. I set an early morning writing schedule before anyone else in the house was awake. No matter what I produced when the timer stopped at 30 minutes, I stopped writing. I would pick it back up the next day.

Then, one week, I pushed up against my self-imposed deadline and had nothing worth posting. So, I didn’t. And then, a few more days past and the story stayed the same. I had 5 or 6 partially written ideas dying on the vine in my notebook. All inertia came to a stop once we moved and added our second child. The blog went from back burner to backyard.

For the past two months, I’ve periodically opened my writing app, jotted a few thoughts, and closed it. Every few days, I’d think about writing, but wouldn’t. It lost its priority because I lost its purpose. I questioned whether I had anything worth saying. If a post wasn’t perfect, I’d push it aside and move along.

Motivation is cultivated. Perfection is an illusion. And, as Shane Parrish says, “Intensity is overrated, while consistency is underrated.”

Showing up for others is easy. There’s external pressure and social incentives. Showing up for yourself is hard. No one expects me to write every day. I don’t get paid by word – or at all. In fact, the internet will go on just fine without my contributions.

But that’s not the point. There may be nothing more human than creativity: Taking wandering thoughts and translating them to compelling ideas and stories on paper. Finding a melody on top of a chord progression. Building empathy with others to solve a nagging problem.

At the start of this new year, I’m not making a resolution to post once a week or write for some specific amount of time every day. I’m not aiming for perfection in every paragraph or stanza. I’m not going to commit to intense workouts every evening.

What I will do is show up. Even if that means early mornings or late nights. (I’m currently writing this after the kids are sleeping, I’ve worked out, and done my chores.) I won't let perfectionism prevent getting it done. I’ll focus on creativity as an end itself because the process is more valuable than the outcome.