Perfectionism is a Trap

Did they tell you too that the one weakness you can gladly admit to is that of being a bit of a perfectionist? As if perfectionism was really rather a badge of honor?

If you tell me that you’re a perfectionist, I’m immediately skeptical. Will you ever get anything done?

To me, perfectionism is just a euphemism for “not able to confidently declare something done.”

Most products and projects are never “naturally done.” You could theoretically adjust and edit and iterate anything until the end of days. Products and projects are done when either the deadline alarm goes off or you say so.

And I think that people should dare to say so. And maybe say so before they have revised their work a thousand times.

To me, it shows confidence and competence if you boldly stand there, point to your work, and tell me with professional pride, “Here! This is it. It’s great and you’ll love it because it’s amazing.”

Don’t get me wrong. When I’m working with designers, writers, photographers — for instance — I obviously expect stellar results. I always have high expectations so I expect everyone to go the extra mile to really bring it home. But an extra mile is not a marathon.

From what I can discern, perfectionism is less about trying to go the extra mile and more about a measure of insecurity. The fear that the results might not dazzle as intended. I’m not blaming anybody. As a creative I’m certainly not a complete stranger to this fear. I’m just calling a spade, a spade: You’re not a perfectionist, you’re just a little scared.

Why am I so persistent, you ask?

Well, because I think that explaining the urge to do millionth revision with the perfectionist excuse is a trap. There’s no way out or around it. If you however decide to embrace the fact that you might just be a little scared of how a project or product is being received by the intended audience, you can deal with it. Maybe even solve it.

Why do I think it’s not done yet? What is the worst that can happen if I say it’s done right now?

Nobody can wait for anyone else to legitimize your work or your decision. There’re no cookies and no pats on the back. No clouds will part so a booming voice can say: “You are done!” Only you can make that decision and move on to the next heroic act. — Or buy that cookie. Because it’s totally deserved.

That’s how I see it.

How do you see it? Do you want to go to bat and rehabilitate perfectionism? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


— Katja Bartholmess. “It’s my passion to inspire and motivate other ambitious women with my stories and experiences from over a decade of entrepreneurship.”

2 thoughts on “Perfectionism is a Trap

  1. yes. that’s it. We all have to be a bit more unprofessional in getting things perfectly done – and have to remember it.
    Can somebody please create a visual out of your words:
    “Perfectionism is just a euphemism for “not able to confidently declare something done.”
    Thank you.
    I myself got too often stuck in that perfectionism 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s