Failure to Launch: Letting Go of Perfectionism

I used to do this thing that made my roommates crazy. We had a box of chocolates that one of our friends got us for the holidays. One of those boxes with all different shapes and mystery fillings that you only knew if you took the time to find the pictures in the book. Really, who has time for that? I used to go into the kitchen, pick one up, take a bite of it, and if I didn’t like it, I would put it back in the box in its place.

It’s pretty hilarious how much of a reaction I got for this “obstruction of justice.” I guess I see their point. If you’re going to try the chocolate, you should have the whole one. Because the next person won’t get to try the whole chocolate. But, I saw it differently. By leaving it half-eaten I was providing someone else with the opportunity to try the chocolate that I didn’t like. In my mind, I was doing a service to the other chocolate-lovers in the home!

One of the reasons why we don’t try things is the fear that our choices are permanent.

I know this because I feel this too from time to time. I too am concerned about starting something that I am not sure I can finish with success. Often times, this leads me down various shame-spirals as I try to logically evaluate opportunities as they come up and predict their outcomes before I even start. Sound familiar?

I wasn't always like this. As I child, I was much more carefree. I wanted to try everything! I went down several rabbit-holes, leaving a wave of half-done craft projects and 3-times-played instruments in my wake. And guess what? No one died. 

Interestingly, in all my half-done projects and curveball ideas, no one else suffered by my lack of “commitment” to the projects that I haven’t been passionate about. 

It surprised me to learn that NOT everyone is sitting on the sidelines of my life criticizing everything that I do. They see the highlight reel and they are interested, but only up to a point. 

Truly, you are the most invested person in your life, and your choices should be based on YOU.

This is why I believe we can leave perfectionism at the door. The point is to try things. Try Everything! Find out what you love and what you don’t love. At the end of the day, everything that we do is to provide ourselves some sort of validation. And guess what? If it’s no longer serving you, why finish it? Why continue it? Projects can be passed down to others, jobs can be left and taken up by new hires, and the people who were meant to play those instruments will damn well play them.

They say the key to a healthy business is to hire slow and fire fast. Sometimes in life, you need to fire yourself. The longer you stick with something that is diametrically opposed to your core values, the more you will sink into that paralyzed quarter-life crisis. And nobody wants that for you.

I know this is controversial, but hey. I say, follow your intuition. Let perfection go. Try the chocolate, and leave the rest of the un-eaten chocolate in the box.