Wednesday, January 18, 2023
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Speak Your MindPerfectionism


Coming up with an interesting subject to write about in my weekly article contribution is not always an easy task. I sometimes have to think for several hours before deciding what to write about. And once having decided the subject, coming up with the first sentences of the article has its own challenges. There are times in which I would decide on the subject but postpone the article writing to another day simply because I am unable to find this “perfect” first sentence which in my view would invite the reader to enjoy the article. In search for perfection, there are times in which I decide not to write until the very deadline for my submission and compromise on quality I could have achieved by starting to write earlier. Because then I would have time for making adjustments.

The search for perfection, in my view, restricts some of us from doing what we wish to do. We think that if we should do something, that thing should be done with perfection. In search for perfection, we end up not doing the thing we planned to do. Back as a student, I had to write research articles for my thesis and publication purposes. I remember that writing the Introduction section of a paper was a cumbersome task. Searching for the perfect words to start with, the ideas to be incorporated and the arguments to be made took more than needed time – time that could have been used more effectively for other purposes. What I learned then is that, ideas do not come just by sitting around and waiting for the perfect idea to pop up. In my view, the best strategy is to start with whatever idea you have. And as you start and continue writing (in case of article writing) with whatever idea you initially considered to be weak, a series of ideas that can improve your initial writing keep coming to your mind.

I believe that perfection can be better achieved with practice and from learning from your mistakes. The problem with perfectionism is that you expect perfection even before you start taking one step forward. You expect and want to make sure that everything goes perfectly and you do not know where to start to make that happen. You keep making plans and fear of turning these into action of fear that you may fail from achieving perfection. You keep postponing your plans for the right opportunity to arise for you to take action. At the end of the day, you either end up doing nothing or unnecessarily wasting time that could have otherwise been used productively.

I always say that, if you want to do something you have been planning and longing to do, then take that small step which you consider to be mediocre and see what happens. I believe you get smarter ideas and solutions from your small initial steps and failures than the long thinking hours you spent to come up with ideas. And I do not think that there is such thing as perfection. There are always some learning to do from big or small failures. And besides, perfectionism leads in my opinion to frustration because in its very nature, perfection is too grand to achieve.

Contributed by Tsion Taye


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