Perfection is overrated. Don't get me wrong, there are times when perfection does matter. People's names, numbers for a budget, legal documents or proposals should be without spelling and grammatical errors. However, many documents or emails are rewritten and re-edited and rewritten unnecessarily. This can waste a lot of time.
Moving Beyond Perfectionist Paralysis
Perfectionist paralysis is the inability to start something or do something because a situation isn't perfect or you may not be able to do it perfectly. For example, I began offering "Controlling Your Clutter!, a free webinar (see below for our next date). As much as I want it to be perfect, I'm not totally comfortable with the technology and "talking" to space -- I can't see anyone participating even though I have a list of who is on the webinar. I could have waited until I was "perfect." But if I waited until then, there would be no webinar. I had to jump in. Even sending out my newsletter -- I know that there will probably be some mistake or a way for me to say something differently or better or someone will opt out. But what is gained by not sending it?
Mistakes happen. Most of you saw my recent "Ooops" with an incorrect webinar registration link. When I do something or send something that isn't "perfect," I grimace and grouse for a bit, learn from it and, (sometimes with great difficulty) let it go.
Overcoming perfectionist paralysis was necessary to get my book to my publisher or I'd probably still be writing and editing it. Fabienne Fredrickson, founder of the Client Attraction Business School says, "Most successful people do it poorly until they do it well. You can't wait until it's exactly right. The product of your quest for perfection...is paralysis."
- Be honest with yourself as you evaluate whether something truly needs to be perfect or you can let it go and it's good enough. This doesn't mean you can "mail it in" or do something that's just okay; it's recognizing when something really is okay. It's your realization that when something is taking way too long could be an indicator that you need help or to move on.
- Ask yourself if your pursuit of perfection might really be procrastination. I had a client proclaim that she was a perfectionist. She needed to work on a project, but she was waiting for the "right time" to begin it. As we talked more about this, we realized that she wasn't a perfectionist but a procrastinator.
A friend complained because she wasn't able to walk an hour every day (which was her
goal). I asked how long she was walking. She explained that she wasn't walking at all
because she wanted to walk an hour. I asked if she had 20 or 30 minutes. She replied, "yes." I said, "then do 20 or 30 minutes." She started walking!
Are you really striving for the perfect time to do something or start a project, or are you merely justifying putting it off? It doesn't have to be "all or nothing."
Is your perfection impeding your productivity or slowing down your team or co-workers in getting their work done or completing a project? Is it preventing you from pursuing a goal? Don't get entangled in perfectionist paralysis. Let it go!