On Perfectionism: Don’t Let Perfect Kill Your Project by LA Bourgeois

On Perfectionism: Don't Let Perfect Kill Your Project by LA BourgeoisLet’s welcome back LA Bourgeois as she shares with us “On Perfectionism: Don’t Let Perfect Kill Your Project.” Enjoy!


Perfectionism reminds me of James Bond, handsome, charming, fashion on point, cocktail in hand, whispering soft nothings into your neck as he slides the knife into your back.

That’s not nice!

While achieving greatness is a fine goal, perfectionism’s siren song can hinder your progress. It can prevent you from starting a project because you doubt your abilities. It can stop you from finishing because your work never seems “good enough.” It can drain the joy from your process because the work isn’t progressing the way you think it should.

“I just have to think of a great first sentence,” you mutter to yourself.
“It just needs this one last touch.”
“Why can’t I find the right word? How does Anne Lamott do it so perfectly? I’ll never be a writer!”

Okay, Home Slice. Let’s take it down a notch. Why so much pressure?

Every writer in the world has thought these thoughts, and even voiced them to others.

Even the writer who wrote the most perfect piece of writing you ever read rough drafted that thing, edited it, pulled words from a thesaurus, thrown words away, and probably can’t believe that others think the work is perfect because they can see every misstep, each typo that made it through editing, all of the mistakes behind the work.

Creativity is Imperfect

To get better at our craft, we need to experiment with the techniques we’re learning, to funk around with structure, to spend time doing the exercises.

To find inspiration, we need to play and explore and let our curiosity lead us into unexpected places that may turn out to be nowhere special.

To finish a project, we need to endure the setbacks, rejoice in our triumphs, and return again and again to our desks and our notebooks.

To release a project, we must lower our expectations, accept the praise given, allow our work to breathe and become part of the world.

We must allow our creativity the space to be imperfect.

And I know that’s scary to think about.

Embracing imperfection can feel like a whirlwind ride on a motorcycle as you escape from the villains, the wind whooshing across your face and stomach doing that little flip as you go weightless with every jump.

That’s why I recommend approaching this process of embracing imperfection with teeny-tiny, itty-bitty steps.

Steps that are small enough not to frighten but still challenge just a little.

Steps that help you break down your resistance to imperfection.

The Four-Part Belief Maker

Here’s an exercise we practice in Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching called the Four-Part Belief Maker.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would it feel like to believe that it’s okay to be imperfect? Just jot down your thoughts for this. I’m not asking you to fully believe it, just imagine what it might FEEL LIKE. Select the most positive feelings from your list and hold them in your heart for a few seconds.
  • Could you imagine accepting your work at 75% perfect rather than holding out for absolute perfection? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
  • Could you imagine loving the imperfection in your creative work for 15 seconds? You don’t have to imagine for longer than that. Simply holding that thought for fifteen seconds begins to build neural pathways in your brain and lay a foundation for the idea that imperfection is okay.
  • Do you know someone who writes imperfectly and still finds success? How would you behave “as if” you were him/her/them? Practice this game as you consider your latest work. Remember, naive people find success every day because they just don’t know enough to play by the rules. Try pretending to be someone like that and see what happens.

As you repeat this practice, you’ll find your resistance to imperfection begin to wane. This is the point where you might try a more challenging exercise.

Do you have an idea for a story?

Start writing it. Begin in the middle. Pen the last scene.

Write terrible nouns strung together with awful adverbs and passive verbs and too many conjunctions.

Practice writing rough drafts without letting that inner perfectionist anywhere near them.

Are you finishing a piece?

Show it to a trusted friend. Share it with your mentor. If you are feeling particularly brave, pop it up on social media.

When people tell you they like your writing, imagine what it would feel like to believe that those words are true.

Lower your expectations. Allow your art into the world. Let it breathe.

Don’t let perfect kill your project.

No matter how seductive that handsome devil is….



LA BourgeoisLA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois is a Kaizen-Muse Certified Creativity Coach and author who helps clients embrace the joy of their creative work and thrive while doing it.

Get more of her creativity ideas and techniques by subscribing to her newsletter at https://subscribepage.io/unlockyourcreativity.

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