Some of the world’s most famous authors and their classic, history-changing books aren’t considered to be done. Kafka, for example, didn’t want any of his work published, he wanted it to be burned. If not for his disloyal-for-your-own-good friend, we wouldn’t have any of his novels. Even authors who live to see their work published and successful, few feel that work is ‘done’. There is always more they want to change or add.
To some extent, we all have perfectionistic tendencies. When something really matters to us, we want it to be beyond all disregard. We want to keep editing and changing things in our lives because we have this vision of what it could be like, and it’s never quite there. However, the most important thing to remember is that those famous authors who never want to quit editing actually got their work published. Even though it wasn’t quite right, they put the words down and got things done.
There’s nothing “wrong” with perfectionism; it’s a natural desire to want things to be whole and good. The problem with it, however, is that it can be stifling. It’s good to want to get something beautiful and amazing done, but it’s more important to just get something done. Even the most beautiful half-finished painting is worthless if it’s in the corner seen by no one. We are given more opportunity than we realize but we don’t tend to see it easily because our minds are so caught up in the tasks we should be done with, or haven’t finished with. It’s good to revise, but there’s more than one thing to revise in our lives.