The perfect is the enemy of the good

The perfect is the enemy of the good

My little girls said to me last weekend: "Mom, if we had to write a phrase on your tombstone, it would probably be 'the perfect is the enemy of the good', that's what you repeat the most! This is a phrase that has stuck with me my whole life and as time goes on I feel it becomes more important.

And what does it mean? Seeking perfection in everything we do, besides being EXHAUSTING is simply... I M P O S S I B L E !!!! And I think we can apply this in knitting as well as in other areas of our lives. When we strive for perfection we usually can't finish our projects because they are never good enough. When I try to be perfect me, then I stop being spontaneous and creative and in the end, I kill my essence. When I've tried to be the perfect's so exhausting that I quit half way through and by the end I'm worse off than I started. I think when we strive for perfection, in the end we forget the reason why we do things and how entertaining and relaxing the process is because we are so focused on the end being perfect.

Hands up anyone who has started a knitting project many times and has unknitted it many times because it is not "perfect". I have unknit a lot, a lot... but every day I unknit less and less. And not because there's anything wrong with not liking what we're doing, but because, before I unknit I think... am I doing it because there's a little thing that isn't perfect? am I doing it because the fabric doesn't look as even as I'd like it to? Or is it because, leaving those details aside, those that don't allow it to be "perfect", do I want to unknit it because I'm not enjoying it or it's not reflecting the essence of what I had in mind? Depending on the answer, is if I think it's worth unknitting. When we knit and it's not perfect I like to remember that what I'm making is a handmade garment, and as such, I shouldn't compare it to something a machine could make. Machines make perfect vests, we create amazing handmade garments, made with love. And that can't be compared.

Also, undoing or stopping things because they are not perfect also restricts us because it doesn't allow us to practice and if we don't practice, we will never be able to improve and develop. When people say to me phrases like... "how do you knit so fast?", "how do you make it so even?" it's always the same answer: knitting, practicing and enjoying the process. I can't deny that it happens to me that I have several projects and I don't finish them because sometimes I feel that they are not perfect. But then I remember my famous phrase and I give myself the last push to finish because, even if it's not perfect, it's good enough and the finished projects are infinitely better than the projects left aside because they didn't reach perfection.

As I was thinking about writing this post and how to write it "as perfectly as possible" I remembered a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called "Unleash Your Magic". There is a part where she explains the trap of perfectionism and how it paralyzes us and doesn't allow us to develop. The author says that "the great trap of perfectionism is that it masquerades as virtue" and that is so real. Thinking that it is excellent to be perfectionists without seeing the dark side: the one that prevents us from starting projects, that does not allow us to give our opinion because we are not allowed to give it unless it is perfect and impossible to criticize. But even worse, the one that doesn't allow us to finish our projects. And as Elizabeth writes "the mere fact of finishing something is an honorable achievement because most people don't finish things".

I want to invite you to reflect, how many personal, professional or knitting projects have you put aside because you think you are not doing it perfectly. Maybe you want your projects to be perfect, but I want to invite you to give yourself permission to finish them. This is an invitation to always remember that "the perfect is the enemy of the good".


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