Episode 28: The Cure for Perfectionism in Creative Work

Join me this week as I share why chasing perfection for perfection’s sake is hollow, and what we’re actually seeking through perfectionism (it’s not what you think).

You’ll learn:

  • What creative work lacks when perfectionism is centered and prioritized
  • What it means to have our energy imbued in our creative work
  • Why you need to create with the intention (as part of the ‘raw materials’) that you want to offer through your art and creative work

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Let’s become a generation of creative women who are examples for the people in our lives of what it looks like to prioritize our work (AND recognize our impact).

x, Jen

Full episode transcript below:


    Welcome to today's episode, the Cure for Perfectionism in Creative Work. 

I'm a recovering perfectionist, and here's what I know.  Chasing perfection for perfection's sake is hollow. We aren't actually seeking perfection, we're seeking what we believe we'll feel when we get it *just right*.

It's often what we've been trying to create our whole lives, but it feels like it's just out of reach. 

Let me explain. I used to think it was noble to try to make creative work as perfect as possible.  Of course, that's what I thought I was supposed to do and how it was supposed to be, like the more perfect it was, the better. Almost to the point where you couldn't tell a pair of human hands or a human brain made it. 

I actually took a semester long CAD class to learn how to design jewelry in a computer program because I felt so deeply insecure about the flaws my handcrafted jewelry had, that I wasn't good enough yet, that my technical skills weren't good enough yet. And the recognition and customer response and peer response I had did not matter. I still thought that, I mean, I took that CAD class maybe five years ago, so fairly recently and fairly far into my jewelry career. 

And I wanna share a side note. I I now appreciate that CAD designed jewelry has a time in place, because no one wants to hand carve prongs, for instance, like four prongs for each stone, imagine a whole eternity ring or like a really complex setting. No one wants to do that. But I didn't begin my CAD education from that place.  It was rooted for me in trying to get it *just right*, trying to get it better, trying to make it more perfect. 

And here's what I now know.  When I was seeking perfection, my creative work lacked soul. It lacked the humanity that is inherent when someone really puts themselves into their work, and they prioritize that over perfection.

I can literally look at things I've made and see a difference. When I was striving for perfection, I eventually carved out the soulful parts in my work to get it *just right*.

And I'm thinking about jewelry, I'm thinking about pottery, painting, all the creative mediums I've worked in woodworking, leatherwork, all of it. 

But when I prioritized putting my work out into the world and fully expressing an idea that came to me, and prioritizing the idea and my essence over perfection, those pieces had soul. And they performed better too.

That was the most fascinating part to me. Time and time again, people gravitated to the pieces I made where I prioritized humanity and soul over perfection. I believe that we can feel it, I believe we can feel a difference, and I believe that what we create is imbued with our energy  and that we need to create with the energy we want to offer through our work.

Let me repeat that-  we need to make our art with the energy we want to offer through our work. That should be priority number one. Because everything we make, whether it's our creative work or it's a meal we cook or a garden we cultivate a friendship- everything we do is imbued with our energy,  and therefore if that's true, the raw ingredients that I'm putting into whatever I'm making, whether that's my creative work, whether that's a friendship, whether that's a relationship, whether it's a garden, or a meal, the raw materials are really, really important and imperative.

And I think a lot of creative people try to skip over this part. They don't realize how important their energy is, and their intention, and what they're putting into it. They're thinking like, oh, that's a luxury that I'll think about in the future, or that's something that I'll think about when I've made it.

But the reality is, is that the raw materials are everything, right now, exactly where you are. And those raw materials are what you're gonna build on and create your vision on. They're the foundation. They're so important. So your energy that you wanna offer should be priority number one in your work. You should be prioritizing that over perfectionism.

And I wanna be clear here. I am not saying that we shouldn't make skillful.  That's not what I mean at all. 

I'm saying that we should make work that has our humanity as the blueprint. Work that is imbued with our energy, knowing that the work that we make is better for it. And work that you can tell was made with two hands, or conceptualized with a human brain, not a CAD program or even AI, because perfection was prioritized over expression.

That's what I have for you today. I am so glad that you were here and that we get to walk our paths together. See you next time. Same time, same place. Bye for now. 



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