Done is Better Than Perfect

I’ve met many people who began working on themselves, then sabotaged their chances for success because they felt that everything had to be perfect—100% perfect— for them to start making progress. I knew a woman once who described herself as the type of person who always had to have a clean house. In fact, she shared that it needed to be so immaculate that you could eat off the bathroom floor. Literally! I’m here to tell, there’s something that’s better than perfect.

About 30 days into working with her, she said to me, “I had a really big revelation that I would like to share. I have finally realized that no one wants to eat off my bathroom floor!” We all laughed, but her epiphany was profound: now that she no longer needed to keep her house so sterile, she realized it’s not going to make or break things in her life. She’s free to pursue other activities and goals, too. Of course, it’s not as if she is now committed to a dirty house, but just relaxing her stance on this issue opened up time and space for her that she never had before.

20 Plates Spinning

I would rather have 20 plates spinning at 80% than one plate spinning at 100%. I would rather be able to have 20 things going well in my life than just one thing going perfectly, 100% of the time. I’d rather have a great marriage, be a fantastic parent, continue facilitating seminars, write my book, exercise, and spend time with friends rather than focusing on just one of these areas to the exclusion of everything else. Think of it as a beautiful hand-made quilt with many different (yet sometimes imperfect) squares—the squares being all of the unique, fun, adventurous people and activities in your life. Doesn’t that sound better than limiting yourself to being really, really good at one thing and having only that one thing going in your life at 100%?

When I mention imperfection, this doesn’t equate to getting 80% of the value out of life. I’m not talking about half-hearted attempts or not working hard.  I mean that you still get 100% of the value, yet you’re not as concerned with the last 20% of the details, because those are usually the details that don’t really matter in the end. Oftentimes, that 20% you stubbornly refuse to give up is just a matter of wanting things done in a certain way (e.g. your way), and not being flexible enough to realize there’s a different way of doing things. For example, organizing your office and insisting that your books have to be alphabetized by author’s last name. Or preparing your child a healthy lunch and making sure every food item looks like an animal, as seen on the food channel. Instead, leave the food shaped as it is; your child can get 100% of the value of a healthy lunch, and you have 30 minutes to work out.

“Done is better than perfect.”

-Sheryl Sandberg

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