Done Beats Perfect

If You Wait for Perfect You'll Never Get Anything Done

I abhor the idea of a perfect world. It would bore me to tears.

As a young ambitious person I remember boasting, “I’m a perfectionist.” And I was! I believed there was a right way to do everything. And I was downright obnoxious about it to the point that I would teach an employee how to hold a pencil. But now I know better.

Now I know perfectionists tend to be procrastinators and micromanagers.

Now I know perfectionism is bad for your mental health.

Now I know perfect is the enemy of good.

Now I know you can’t pursue a perfect process or you’ll never get anywhere.

Now I know perfection does not equal excellence.

Aim for Excellence but Keep Moving Forward

Even if it’s not perfect. Just get it done. Done beats perfect every time. The 80-20 rule is a good reminder here: it takes 20 percent of the full time to complete 80 percent of a task. Meanwhile, completing that the last 20 percent takes 80 percent of the effort. This is not an excuse to quit early or be lazy; it’s a reminder to be smart and efficient with your time. After that first 80 percent of the task is complete, increasing your efforts results in diminishing returns. Even if perfection is possible to achieve, it might be a waste of time and resources to aim for it.

These three strategies help me keep moving forward: 

  1. Concentrate on results and ROI
  2. Get comfortable with failure 
  3. Understand the intent of an effort

Some signs that perfectionism is getting in the way:

  1. You never feel satisfied with your results
  2. You constantly compare yourself to others
  3. You procrastinate 
  4. You feel attached to your identity as a perfectionist, so you feel threatened when work isn’t “perfect” 
  5. You feel paralyzed
  6. You are bothered by others’ willingness to compromise
  7. Your pursuit of perfection is causing you anxiety or depression

Give yourself a gift and let go of the need for perfect. Enjoy the journey along the way. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Embrace lessons learned. And keep moving forward.

We put out Giving Tomorrow magazine every month and blog two to three times a week. If we tried to make them perfect, you would never get to read them. Enjoy!

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