This final post in my series on work/life balance may be the most important, and that is to
STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE, NOT PERFECTION.
Let’s get real you guys, we all struggle with comparison. It eats away at us and ruins the authenticity of why we do what we do. Whether we’re artists, photographers, make up artists, moms, wives, husbands, fashion bloggers...you name it, we all face it! The accessibility we have to other amazing artists, photographers, etc., through social media can either make it worse, or make us strive to be better. Someone who strives for excellence rather than perfection is a person who can be satisfied and focused on the process rather than the outcome of whatever it is they do. But it’s hard to focus on the process when we’re constantly checking for how many likes and who’s working this or that job, and thinking it should be you doing this or that instead of them. Comparison is real and it is very prevalent today, and it can destroy a person’s psyche and a person’s business. I’ve been there. Small businesses are popping up like weeds today, and I’ve been scrolling through my feed and seeing people I follow taking vacations, starting a family, working with that photographer in that country and eating that food...how do I get *that*? And as an artist, the battle of comparing yourself to other artists can take over your thought life and can become debilitating. This isn’t a new trend either, this also happened to magnificent painters and artists like Gougin, Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe, etc., who either suffered from a nervous breakdown because of the pressure and reality of failure, or depression, or just plain insanity (ehem, looking at you Van Gogh). And they didn’t even have Instagram!! Think about how easy it is now to look through another artist’s work or see how many weddings that photographer is booking in those exotic countries just by turning on your phone! *Side note: I’m not in anyway saying I’m suffering from insanity because of being a small business owner, but just to be dramatic I thought I’d bring out those big guns.* But, the struggle is real and it can take over every part of our lives.
When we let the ugly side of comparison creep in, the obsession, the envy, etc., we begin the impossible battle of fighting for perfection. And let me tell you, no one wins that battle. We just end up losing sleep over it, centering our work around it, creating discord in our lives. Instead, we need to flip comparison upside down and slap it into submission. Create balance in work and life by ignoring the discontentment and naggy voice of perfection. Do not let this monster run your life and run your business. Use it to help strive toward excellence. Make mistakes and learn from them. I've been there before...I've received an invitation job back from my printer and noticed a spelling mistake (*panic!*), I've battled through screwing up my finances for that month and realizing I just didn't make enough, I've had to learn a lot of things the hard way, and because of that I've been able to learn how to be a better business owner and artist. The stuff I post on Instagram probably makes up 10% of what I actually paint/create. The rest of it ends up in the trash. I constantly make mistakes. And I get overwhelmed with the outcome too, this isn't something I have down. It's hard to turn everything off and not focus on perfection. I see this all the time in my classes. Students become so overwhelmed and terrified to put paint to paper because the outcome isn't what they expected or are wanting, holding back the process of learning and getting better. We are all too consumed with looking at what it should be and what it isn't. And what *should* it be anyways?? Someone else's work or successful business? Well, let me give you this little nugget from one of my favorite authors:
"Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!"
That's the truth! Instead of comparing ourselves to other people or making the rate of how our business or our social media followings are growing a competition, we need to focus on being ourselves. Work harder, get better, and don't set goals that are too far out of reach. Set realistic goals that you know you can be successful in and don't stop doing that. You will always get better. Striving for excellence helps refine our talents and abilities while being a perfectionist suffocates them. And to seem relevant and like I do my research, here’s a quote from Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future Day was yesterday, so I’m not that far off):
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Yes, it’s God’s business. Not ours. We are human, we all make mistakes...even that person you idolize via social media, they make mistakes too. So, go out there and enjoy the process of whatever it is you do. Strive for excellence, be human and be you.