February 19, 2022
The title of this post is very easy to preach but very hard to practice.
Perfectionism is a state of mind, where you fail to see the progress made and you never become satisfied with your accomplishments. It mostly has to do with one’s internal satisfaction and not validation from external sources.
How do you know when you are trapped in perfectionism?
The subtle difference between what is perfect and the perfectionism state of mind is hard to articulate. This article by Seth Godin explains it nicely.
The idea of perfect is important - a plane should not crash and should work exactly as expected. The plane meets a set of standards and specifications - and given that it operates under these constraints it works perfectly.
Perfectionism is seeking to meet some imaginary standards set by one for mostly themselves. It stems from one’s attitude as well as a lack of clearly set specifications and constraints.
Good enough should be the goal. Even when clear standards and specifications are present, people tend to make that one last improvement before shipping or sharing their work with the world.
Anything beyond good enough is stalling. The goal before shipping should be good enough and not perfect.
The graph of effort vs quality is exponential in nature. The last 10% is the hardest to attain and takes the most amount of time. There are tons of images out there that show this, but here is one:
Perfectionism is not to be confused with attention to detail. Attention to detail is more of a skill where you are able to prioritise the things that others may perceive as less important. These are the kind of things that end up setting your work apart from your peers. Attention to detail needs to be factored at the time of creating specifications.
How to avoid the trap of perfectionism?