Perfectionism Reflections

(Almost) Perfect

In Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, Seth Godin discusses the problem with “(almost) perfect.”

As we progress on a task or project, it will take more time and effort to improve. The time required to get from 95% to 99% perfect takes more time than it took us to get to 95% to begin with.


Source: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

The Pareto principle shares the same idea. It usually takes 20% of the time to complete 80% of the task, and 80% of the time to complete the last 20%.

As perfectionists, we bury ourselves into that last 20%. We make excuses to not hand something in on time, and regularly extend deadlines. We’ll work well into the night to get something “just right,” and we’ll put off self-care and our own growth in order to submit projects are (almost) perfect.

Once I slaved over a project over a few days fueled by a couple dozen Red Bulls. The professor criticized me by telling me that I wouldn’t have that kind of time once I got into the real world. I didn’t understand it at the time, but he was absolutely right. Later on in the “real world”, my supervisor repeatedly asked me to submit the paperwork for my own promotion. I put it off for months.

Create boundaries for your tasks. There are times when 80% and done is good enough. And 80% and done is always better than 100% perfect and never done.

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