” Perfectionism is the antithesis of evolution”- Anonymous, this quote has been an epiphany for me in both my professional and personal life.
Why do we struggle so much to focus on growth but instead get dragged down by the pursuit of perfection which in reality does not really exist? Simply put, human beings struggle with coming to grips with the notion of acceptance and enjoying the process as it is. If we can work from the perspective of pursuit of growth rather than perfection, the impact on one’s self concept is nothing short of existential liberation. Below are some aspects we can consider when addressing the important milestones of our lives.
- Enjoyment should be central:– We often forget that work ought to be pleasurable. If the math is right, we spend at least a 1/4 of our lives at work or doing some kind of task. This means we should really be aware of what we are doing and if we are doing it better do it making sure it is enjoyable at least most of the time. This will help make the process more bearable. Rather than expecting the reward and recognition that stems from “success” or achieving a certain goal figuring out creative ways to make the day to day tasks interesting and pleasure worthy is essential. This is not to say we must love it at all times, that is impossible. Every job comes with its drawbacks, however the pursuit of enjoying the mere action of doing is really what will set your work life apart.
- Purpose should be the driving force:– Some people have to do work which they might feel has no purpose but is essential. . You might not be extremely passionate about cleaning toilets but if you wake up in the morning believing that is is essential and worth doing for the company you work for and feel productive in doing it, that is still purpose. Very often purpose is defined as a grandiose concept tied to prestige and glory that is reserved to the positions traditionally put on a pedestal by society such as CEO, doctor etc. What is especially important is your ability to truly answer the question do you feel that your job is essential for the betterment of your community? Not all of the elite can answer yes to this question.
- Appreciate the small pleasures & wins:- The big milestones are always exaggerated, that big promotion that massive award, that press article in the paper. These validation points of our productivity are largely superficial yardsticks that often lose their meaning and impact on the psyche over time. However if we choose to focus on our achievements no matter how small, we build the resilience necessary to keep doing what we do. It’s easy to let frustration set in. Easier still to get distracted by the rush of dopamine which seems to be readily spewed when one does something of superficial importance, however if we can find appreciation in the mundane, a supportive email from a colleague, an interesting project which you have not attempted before, learning and researching an area you had not thought of before, a walk in the park with your dog, these are activities which add up to making the process that much more impactful for your longevity as a creative, a person who feels ALIVE.
- Understand and accept that even if you reach the ideal, that is also impermanent:- Since even the biggest wins will lose their essential meaning overtime, one must be prepared to not lose sight that even the queen of Great Britain does not have immortality on her side. Thus whatever we got, we have to ensure that impact and value is being added, despite the impermanence of it all as this is all we get. In the astonishing masterpiece Desiderata by Max Erhmann “Go Placidly among the noise and Haste”.
Authored by Shanelle De Almeida
Licensed Clinical Psychologist