Good enough and the battle of perfectionism
My dad is a perfectionist. It’s really annoying because even the small simple jobs take ages.
When I was about 15 and still living with my parents I got a new bed. It was a flat pack and fairly straightforward to put together. The minute it arrived I started to assemble it (I’d been sleeping on a sofa bed for a few weeks already so was keen to get the bed made asap). I put the frame together and then distributed the wooden slats at even intervals along the length of the bed. Th
en I plopped the mattress on top. Job done. An hour and a half max.
My dad came to inspect the bed. He lifted up the mattress and apparently my bed construction skills were not good enough. He fixed it by precision measuring the slats so they were exactly the same distance apart. Then with great care and attention, he screwed them into the bed base so they would not move. He had to use his own screws because they were not supplied as part of the flat pack (presumably because they were not needed).
It took about 5 hours.
The approximate slat distribution of slats was good enough. It held the mattress. With the weight of the mattress on top the slats would not move. I could sleep on it.
Did I get a better night’s sleep or was I safer on the precision screwed slats? Probably not.
Do you do the same thing at work? Take too long on your quest for perfectionism when good enough would be good enough? End up staying at work late or coming in early just to get through your workload? If you are nodding, you need to battle your perfectionism and go home on time more often.
Tips to battle perfectionism
- Ask yourself ‘Is it good enough?’ If you spend more time on it would it be significantly better or are you just tinkering around the edges? If you are tinkering stop.
- Choose the work that’s really important, the work where the consequences of an error are big, or the impact significant that it’s worthy of perfectionism. For example, precision engineering on an aeroplane (my dads day job) is important, precision engineering on a bed not so much. Focus your remaining perfectionist energy on the work that is really important.
- Set yourself deadlines. Think realistically how long something should take. Set a deadline and stick to it. For example, if a blog takes 2 hours. Stick to it. Press publish after 2 hours.
What is perfect anyway? What is good enough? Who is the judge? In my experience, we are our own worst critics.
If you’d like some help with the battle of perfectionism you might benefit from joining the Lucidity Network. It’s a pick and mix of online and offline learning and connection to a dynamic network of people who can help you. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Join the Lucidity Facebook community to get in the Lucidity groove for clearer thinking and better results and be the first to hear when the Lucidity Network is open for members.