Perfectionism V Excellence
There is a huge difference between doing something well and doing it perfectly.
Attempting to be perfect can bring on feelings of inadequacy and even interefere with the successful completion of important work and projects.
Perfectionism is, quite frankly, over rated and unneccessary!
Excellence, on the other hand, is attainable and is always more than good enough.
Eliminate the idea of perfection from your life and you'll see your productivity soar. For example, a poorly written, but complete, book can still be published. But a perfectly composed book that's only half finished is essentially worthless.
Of course, there's a middle ground between poor and perfect. And that terrain includes excellence.
The problem with perfection is that it can never be truly attained. So, in pursuing perfection, not only are you doomed to fail, but in the end, you also might have nothing to show for your efforts.
Have you heard of The Law of Diminishing Returns ?
The idea is to apply the Law of Diminishing Returns to striving for perfection:
Imagine if you spent 25 hours on a two-page report for a project Would you get an (virtual) A? I would certainly hope so, but what else may have suffered because of it? What about your other clients, projects and obligations? Maybe instead you could have done something enjoyable.
The other thing to consider is this: could you have achieved the same outcome with two hours of work? Or five? From a practical standpoint, the same results can often be attained with much less time and effort. There is nothing to be gained by spending more time on something than truly needed.
If you spent six hours washing and waxing your car and your neighbour spent two hours on his, do you think anyone could tell the difference a week later?
More importantly, what else could you have accomplished with those extra four hours?
Life is short, and there's a lot to do.
What else could you do with your time besides trying to be perfect?
Pursuing Excellence Instead
What exactly is excellent, anyway? In this context, excellent means that the task was completed at a high enough level that there's no cause for concern. You know your work will meet whatever requirements are put upon it. Regardless of the nature of the task, you know that it's done well enough and you have zero concerns about it.
Of course, you'll want to decide on the level of excellence you wish to attain before getting started on a project.
Everything you do should have the standards that you strive to attain. If you choose your benchmark of completion properly, there's never a good reason to go beyond that point.
Each project, piece of client work, post, blog .. whatever it is will have it's own level of excellence for you.
Once you know what that is, you have a target, a goal that has been chosen with some thought and intelligence.
Now all you need to do is to perform the task to that level and STOP! That task is complete and it's time to move onto the next one.
Giving up a habit of pursuing perfection might seem challenging. However, it is worth it. You'll be happier, more productive, and you'll maintain your sanity much more easily by striving for excellence instead.
The other to mention though, is that quite often GOOD will actually be GOOD ENOUGH and it is at that point you need to stop.
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