"What does it matter to ya
When you got a job to do
You gotta do it well."
Live and Let Die
by PAUL & LINDA McCARTNEY
I think many of us grew up with the old adage "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well." I know I did.
I have come to understand how damaging this simple phrase is. It implies that everything we do must be done to a very high level of perfection, which is almost impossible. Unfortunately, this attitude or way of thinking takes away from that idea of playfulness.
What usually happens when we take on the concept of perfection is we suffer a paralysis from doing: we wait until we have the time or the skill or materials, etc., to do the task perfectly. Some refer to this mindset as paralysis from over-analysis. In this way of approaching things, there would be no sense in starting anything unless everything is in perfect order. Because we may not have the exact amount of time, or the highest skill level, or the ideal set of materials, we procrastinate. And we come up with excuses on why it won't work. And then we procrastinate some more, which can lead to negative thought patterns and feed the inner-critic, depleting our mental vibrancy.
When you watch young children, they just jump in and play, with this curiosity that's unhampered by any notion of "doing it right" or having all the materials (or toys) needed to do the thing. They just play and improvise as they go along.
When we find ourselves in the grip of procrastination, it's time to do some honest self-assessment. Taking a few moments to notice what may be happening on a deeper level is a way to move forward with more clarity.
I've been working on a project
My project involves recording a series of meditations. I had the outlines of each meditation, yet I felt stuck with moving forward on this project, but it wasn't that I didn't have the content for my project. I've had this for some time now. Almost immediately the excuses cropped up:
I need a better microphone than the computer's built-in one.
And as fast as I found a solution to my "problem" (I have an excellent vocal microphone), more excuses appeared:
I need a better interface to get a decent recording
I need software to edit the sound so it sounds professional
When I started to become more honest with myself, I knew I had all the equipment I needed to get started. Did I have a set up that was the envy of Abbey Road Studio #3? No, not by a long shot. But was that going to really matter? No.
So I searched for the quietest place in our home and set up the microphone in our walk-in closet, and got going on my project. When I listened to the recordings, I was able to edit and refine the words. And my wife listened to the recordings and suggested adding a tanpura in the background, so the sound is not so stark, and I fiddled with the timing.
Had I waited for the perfect time or the perfect recording studio or equipment, my recording project would never have gotten off the ground and there would not have been the opportunity to refine it.
"If something needs doing, get on with it."
The refinement process does not end. The next time I do a similar project, I will have this experience to work from; experience that would not have happened if the project hadn't ever gotten started by jumping in and trying it.
I welcome your comments.