Have you ever wondered how to overcome perfectionism, and why it sucks so much?
I have been through my share of ups and downs with this addiction.
The number 1 reason why it sucks is that you’ll struggle to get anything done. Or started, even. That’s called procrastination, and it’s the #1 result killer of all those who get paid based on production.
When I was in the corporate grinder I was proud of how good my work was. I was proud that I was getting it done at a very high level. My colleagues came to me when they needed something done “properly”. There were some ongoing jokes about me being detail-oriented. Not that I cared.
It never dawned on me why my managers weren’t enthusiastic about me. Until I started working for myself, which forced me to become a production oriented. With the same mindset, I was getting some good work done. Some, but not much of it. It was not long before I realized that there needs to be a certain number of articles, blog posts, videos, and so on, before quality comes into play. What I found shook my world: it turns out quality can be substituted with quantity to a large degree. Quantity, however can not be substituted with quality. In other words, quality alone will not get you results in free enterprise. I guess this is a secret that we weren’t taught at school so there will be people who take the 9 to 5 jobs.
Is slowly realized that if you have quantity, you’ll get your averages. You’ll have customers, conversion rates and such, which you can work on improving later. If there’s no quantity there’ll be no averages, and you won’t have a business.
I started waging a war inside on perfectionism. Going against how I was raised, and how much of my current environment thinks. I am in Japan, after all, where there is a rule for everything and stuff has to be “just so”.
I have relapses, but I’m in the production zone more and more. And if I can get 80%, or 75%, that’s good enough for me; 100% doesn’t seem to be a practical target anymore. Such a target would suggest I’m relapsing into neurotic perfectionism.
A way to check if you’re over-doing things
I simply ask myself: “Is my current activity adding further value to this product/job?” “Is this going to make the end result noticeably better?” If the answer is “no”, just move right along to the next task.
Let me take this example from the online marketing world. You may write an article in 30 minutes or 3 hours; either way the reader will only spend about 2 minutes on it. But if you write 2 articles or posts in the same timeframe, you get the reader’s attention for 4 minutes. Plus you expose him to your profile and links twice. Twice the chance to get an opt-in. Which approach do you think will make you more successful?
That is not to say that you don’t need to pay attention
If you don’t pay attention you pay with pain. Again, marketing world example. An incongruent sales funnel will produce no result. Plus there is more than enough crap on the internet already. At the same time there is no point in editing an article 15 times and thinking too much about where to place a comma. Aim for balance. There is one, and I find it is closer to the get-it-done-ASAP than get-it-perfect-every-time side.
My New Perspective
I felt liberated once I understood that quality does not equal results. Things started to happen faster. Results started to come.
I started loving “Good Enough” instead of “Perfect”. “Good enough” HAS BECOME my new “Perfect”.
Perfect action takes time, and momentum is lost. The beauty of imperfect action is that it keeps things moving. It frees up time. You get more done so it reduces stress. That is why I urge you to become a recovering perfectionist.
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Are you a recovering perfectionist? Is there something in particular that you struggle with? Please share your thoughts on this subject in the comments below.