Perfection is a noble act. From a young age, we strive for it. Certain professions demand it. In fact, the sheer pursuit of it seems to lie somewhere between noble and mythical. Yes, there’s nothing like applying ourselves to achieve perfection except for one, small issue:
“The pursuit of perfection may be the single biggest roadblock to accomplishing our goals.”
I see this phenomenon when I try and mentor new authors. When I ask how long the individual has been working on a book, the response is usually anywhere between 5-10 years. It isn’t that he or she hasn’t started writing. It’s just that the person can’t stop changing the direction of the book, or rewriting chapters in search of perfection.
I see the same thing when I work with those in career transition. When I ask how many times jobseekers have redone a resume, they usually tell me that it’s at least 10 times! It’s not that these jobseekers haven’t written a resume; It’s more a matter of their need to keep changing the format, or rewriting the content in search of perfection.
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I see it all the time, and in many different kinds of scenarios. The saddest part is that no matter what the situation is that involves that pursuit of perfection, the results are almost always the same: The lack of accomplishing anything.
When we pursue perfection, it seems like our intent is noble, and our reward is unjust. It’s a sad irony when you stop and think about it. That’s where the following phrase suddenly makes sense; “Done is better than perfect.”
- You could dream about writing a book, and pick at a piece you’ve written forever… and it still won’t be perfect. You know what isperfect? Intelligently outlining what it is you are about to write, staying committed to that outline by following it, and completing the task. Now that’s perfect!
- You could dream about finding the perfect career, create a resume, have a half dozen people give you feedback, and rewrite it over and over again… and it still won’t be perfect. You know what isperfect? Benchmarking what kind of resume fits the profession you are pursuing, taking your best crack at creating a resume that would be appropriate, and getting one person whose opinion you value to help you complete the task. Now that’s perfect!
- You could substitute almost any significant goal, talk about it, map it out, and pick at it forever… and it still won’t be perfect. You know what isperfect? Creating a realistic strategy, and methodically following that game plan until you’ve reached your goals. Now that’s perfect!
It goes without saying that when we pursue our goals, we should always strive to do our best. Please don’t confuse doing your best with achieving perfection. When you do think your best has to be perfection, you run the risk of not just falling short of your goals. You also run the risk of never even attempting to reach these goals. So be smart, be driven, and remember, done is better than perfect.
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