Nonperfectionism in a Single Sentence

Nothing is as humbling, to a writer, anyway, as when you’ve used a lot of words to say something, and then someone comes along and nails it in a single sentence.

But also nothing is more of a gift, so I guess it evens out. 🙂

It happened to me with my book The Lifelong Activist. Somewhere in the midst of writing a 400+ page tome on how to live a sustainable, balanced life that includes a serious political mission, I found this quote by the French writer Gustave Flaubert that pretty much summed everything up:

  • “Live your life regular and orderly like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

(Of course, Flaubert doesn’t tell you *how* to do that great thing, so I guess my book is still useful!)

These days I spend a lot of time helping people overcome perfectionism. And for my work-in-progress, Joyful Productivity for Undergraduates (due out this year!), I’m happy to say I’ve come up with no fewer than nine great solutions, which I’ll share in a future newsletter. But I recently saw this great quote by spiritual teacher Ram Dass that’s as succinct a description of antiperfectionism work as you’ll find:

  • “It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”

I’ll just add that it’s especially important to follow this advice at moments when you’re most tempted to stray from it–e.g., when you feel you’ve failed.

Perfectionism never helps, only make things worse. Give it up as the bad habit it is, and you open yourself up to ever more joy and abundance in your work and life.

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