I’m Terri, and I’m a Raving Perfectionist

politifact-photos-PencilI haven’t written a blog in weeks. Why? Because I was: Busy. Reading. Working on proposals. Getting organized. Watching “Orange is the New Black.”

This is a lie.

Of course, I was doing those things. But that’s not why I haven’t blogged. Not even close.

The truth is that I’m a fucking perfectionist. The very worst kind because I’ve pretended I wasn’t one. And I’m ready to come out and admit it.

For a long time I’ve pretended I wasn’t. That I was cool, laid back,  all about work-in-progress and just-get-it-done. I sent emails with typos, knowing there were typos. See? Not a perfectionist.

I looked around my apartment. In 300 square feet, messy happens quick. I’d leave socks on the floor. Laundry drying on a rack until it was time to do laundry again. This didn’t look like the home of a perfectionist (and in fact I kinda wished it did). Clearly no perfectionist lives here!

Wrong. There is a difference between perfectionist and lazy and sometimes I am lazy, and that’s the truth.

What’s also true is that I was busy NOT doing stuff: Not blogging, not effectively managing my projects, not writing a proposal for a book I hadn’t pitched yet. And it’s making me feel guilty, unhappy, and generally anxious.

A CEO I admire, Jan Bruce of meQuilibrium, talked in a Fox News segment recently about how perfectionism gets in the way of goals and actions. And an insightful piece in the Wall Street Journal points to research on how mood repair is behind pesky procrastination: Basically, that the idea of taking on a task makes you feel so shitty that you turn to Facebook, TV, a nap—anything to make you feel better now, and you end up paying more later.

The great irony is that I know all the reasons why perfectionism is a losing game, and why those attempt to win end up stressed, anxious, depressed.  I know all about it. I wrote about it in a feature, “How to Be (Im)Perfect,” for Body+Soul magazine.

I’m great at explaining why YOU shouldn’t be a perfectionist.

Meanwhile, I’ve been one the whole damn time. I’m like the preacher who says don’t drink and then gets soused after church. Or, I don’t know, the politician who goes after prostitution tooth and nail, while fucking whores. (Imagine!) I’m like–well, like actual real people that exist. And you don’t need to look further than the date of my last blog post to know it’s true.

As a content strategist and media coach, I tell my clients how not to get hung up on getting it just right before going with it. Ha! hahaha. “Don’t worry about crafting full blown articles!” I say. And then, I turn around and put it off or take hours to produce a full-blown article, which–as more than one person has told me–are too damn long.

So this year, I’m turning over a new leaf, albeit halfway through January. I’m going to stop letting perfectionism stop me from moving ahead in my writing, my life–and I urge you to do the same. You’re doing it for the same reasons I have:

  • Because if you can’t do something amazing, you may be caught in the act of not being amazing. So you skip it.
  • Because people might disagree with you, hate you, skewer you.
  • Because you may offend someone / make a mistake / say the wrong thing.
  • Because you might just suck.
  • Because you are asking yourself bigger questions, like: What if my efforts are in vain? What if my life is pointless?

I am guessing you have plenty of reasons, and excuses, too.

So let’s stop this shit and just do it. I’m going to leave this typo in–thisng onxe–just because. It’s driving me crazy and you crazy and so we’ll start there.