The Nightmare of a Perfectionist

It’s a dream (well, actually a nightmare) that has a number of different forms but always turns out the same way: 

  • I’m in college and haven’t attended a certain class for the entire semester. The semester is almost over and now all the work is so overwhelming I can’t catch up.
  • Or, I’ve never been to the class, never even knew where it was held, and now it’s almost the end of the semester and I still can’t even find the classroom.
  • Or, I am a pastor, the service is about to begin, and there is no sermon prepared.

The dream always ends with some sort of task, class, or sermon left undone, just short, or so overwhelmingly incomplete it’s impossible to finish. Have you ever had this dream?

I’ve been told that psychologists say it’s the dream of a perfectionist. I guess that tells you something about me. I’m a perfectionist. One of my worst nightmares is to come up short.

I haven’t been able to tell if a certain stressor or event triggers these dreams. But I do know that when they happen they are impetus for me to:

  • Do the work (ala Steven Pressfield)
  • Keep trying
  • Persist
  • Ship the project (ala Seth Godin)
  • Go the extra mile
  • Pursue my passions (ala Hugh MacLeod)
  • Finish one big thing and start another
  • Work some more on the project that’s sitting on the back shelf

Time is too limited and life is too short to waste it on things that never get accomplished. I think I’ll leave the things that never get accomplished for my nightmares.

I may have to remind myself time and again that my work isn’t going to be perfect, but I’m committing myself to getting it finished. It’s a struggle for a perfectionist, but it’s a battle that’s worth waging.

After all, the more work I deliver the better it’s going to get…and the closer it will be to the perfection I desire. It’s a reminder I need. In fact, in writing this blog post I’m doing exactly what I’m suggesting. It’s one more thing accomplished; one more item complete; one more item checked off the to-do list.

Has a dream ever taught you a lesson or provided you motivation?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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