On Perfectionism

I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  You know that axiom that says “anything worth doing is worth doing well”?  I have a corollary that says “anything that can’t be done well isn’t worth doing.”  Unfortunately, my subconscious seems to think that “well” is interchangeable with “right” and “perfectly.”  This tends to mean that any time I come across something I think would be fun to try, I research the heck out of it.  I want to make sure I have the best idea possible of what I am doing before I get started.  After all, why reinvent the wheel?  Why not give myself the best possible chance at success on the first go?  This strategy has served me well, but it also means that if I feel I don’t have a skill or piece of equipment (or  the right temperament) for a given project, I’ll put it off – sometimes indefinitely- until I have what I think I need to “do it right.”  I’m starting to get the feeling that this attitude is stifling my productivity and possibly even my creativity.  I need to start working on identifying when being  “perfect” really matters and when it doesn’t.  Sometimes I wonder what I might be missing out on. 

Perfectionism in my jewelry is generally a good thing.  Because I sell my work, I don’t want to put anything out for sale that is sub-standard – according to my standards.  This means no lumps of solder on visible seams, no scratches on pieces that are meant to be highly polished, and the back of the piece is as neat as the front.  By my standards, scratches on the back are not excusable simple because they won’t be visible while the piece is being worn.  They are visible to me, and to anyone who picks the piece up and looks at it. 

I have my standards with photography as well.  I grew up with professional photographers in my family.  I’ve studied the subject in college, I’ve taught it at the High School level, and I spent about 15 years working as a printer in the photofinishing industry.  I have ingrained perfectionist habits as a result of all that time working with other people’s pictures.  I have an excellent idea of What Doesn’t Work!  I also seem to believe that I need to take all my photos in professional RAW format and adjust each of them individually in Photoshop.  The unfortunate drawback to this otherwise excellent standard is that most of my casual photos and family snapshots sit on my hard drive and never get seen by anyone except me.  Even if I skipped the image adjustment, I’d still have to convert them from RAW files to JPEGs before I could post them online or email them to family.  Do I really need to take all my family snapshots using the most professional file format my camera can produce? No, I don’t.  Nor do I need to put that much effort into casual snapshots of what I’m working on for my blog.  It makes sense to use a professional format when I’m doing product photos for my online shops at 1000 Markets and Etsy, and for photos that I’m going to use for gifts or holidays cards. For snapshots where the only purpose is to give people a glimpse into my life I think it’s overkill. 

When I want to show the world what I’m doing I need to take my audience into consideration, as well as my standards, and try to filter out the opportunities for overkill.  This applies to blog posts as well.  This post isn’t being graded, nor am I getting paid for it.  I don’t need to forward it to everyone I know who writes for a living for an opinion before I post it.  If I don’t allow some things to sometimes be less than perfect  I’ll never get around to doing anything.


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