The Aesthetic Bullseye

Last updated 2019-10-30

When I’m cooking a meal, writing a paragraph, or programming a piece of software, I usually have a personal standard of quality that guides my decisions. After watching this vlogbrothers video, I started referring to this standard as my ‘aesthetic target’. At its center is my ‘aesthetic bullseye’, which represents my concept of perfection.

It’s tempting to remain unsatisfied until I hit my aesthetic bullseye. However, if I’m making something for others to enjoy, I need to consider their tastes as well as my own. And while this might seem to make my job harder, it actually makes it much easier. The reason is that not everyone’s tastes are exactly the same. If I superimpose other people’s aesthetic targets onto my own, my aesthetic bullseye disappears.

Even if I hit my own bullseye, I will miss the bullseyes of others. Realizing this has helped me to relax more when I’m struggling to achieve my own standard of perfection. Better to take more shots in the right general direction than to get caught in the perfectionist’s eternal refrain of “ready, aim, aim, aim, aaaaaaim…”

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