The Fight Against Perfectionism

Top - C/O Nasty Gal | Jeans - Jack Wills | Boots - Primark | Necklace - Posh Totty Designs

My name is Jordan Brown and I am a perfectionist...and it's kind of ruining my life. 

I think when you first hear the word "perfectionist", it doesn't really seem like a bad thing. I mean, how can it be a flaw to just want everything done well? That's kind of how I had been seeing it for years. I'm a perfectionist because I want everything to be done to the best of my ability. I don't want to half-arse anything, if you will.

The other day, I watched a video from Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers, where he spoke about his secret to productivity. He said that he always does everything to 80%:

"Everything creative I do, I do my best to get it 80% of the way to as good as I can make it, and go no further. I just don't try to get it to 100%." 

His words resonated with me for a while, mainly because I haven't been very productive lately, and also because I am so obsessed with the idea of taking everything to 100%. I want everything to be the very best and it's just not possible. Another point Hank made is that "best is subjective". It looks totally different to everyone. Someone on the outside can look at your Instagram, for example, and think that it is fantastic. Meanwhile, you're staring at your feed and thinking you just can't get it right. So even if I did push and push and push until I reached perfection, I'd never truly have it. And I think I kind of already know this. 

And let's be honest, perfectionism isn't making me happier. I've never once done something and genuinely thought that it had been perfect. Rather, I focus on what I could have done instead and then my mind fills with all kinds of regret and sadness until I'm totally overwhelmed and disheartened. Why do I keep putting myself through this when I know I will never achieve true perfection? 

I also have something I like to call "The Deadly Duo" - perfectionism paired with ambition. Ambition is a great quality to have. It drives me to chase dreams and achieve goals, but the problem I have when it's paired up with perfectionism is that I am never able to achieve. I hit a goal and it's not enough. I constantly want more, because in my mind, more is closer to perfect. 

My dream for my entire life has been to write a novel. When I was younger I wrote and wrote and wrote until my hands were sore, telling myself that one day I would write a bestseller. But here I am, age 23, with nothing. Not even a chapter. And do you know why? Because every time I write a paragraph I look over it once and then delete it. I just can't bring myself to write something because I know it won't be perfect. 

Sometimes I wish I could just scream at my brain to stop. 

And I'm so done with it. 

I'm so done with not being able to achieve my goals because my attempts are never good enough. And I'm tired of trying to hit 100% when 100% doesn't exist. I want to be ambitious, I want to go for the gold, but I don't want to try and be perfect anymore. I need to go for 80%. 

So maybe it's time for a fresh outlook. It's nearly the end of 2017. It was by no means perfect, but it's been one of the best years of my life. So why can't I make 2018 even better? It's time to drop the perfectionism and start focusing on the ambition. 

Maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be the year I fulfil my least to 80%. 

Photography by April Todd