“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffmann, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
Perfectionism is an expectation many of us have towards ourself. It is however not only an unrealistic expectation, but it will also hold you back.
Perfectionism paralyses instead of driving progress
Perfectionists tend to overanalyse simple situations. They keep on analysing and dwell over choices that other people take little time to make. While it does pay to analyse your choices and aim for a good result, overdoing something is never good. Sometimes it is even impossible to make the best choice on the information currently available, you need to take some action first before you can make a final decision.
Especially in today’s online world, we can often make changes while we go. That blog article you wrote is not perfect yet? No worries, you can always come back later and improve it. You do not need to get it right just now. Often you also rob yourself from learning opportunities this way. Once you have failed with something you will make sure not to make that mistake again and improvement comes automatically.
No one is interested in how you started out
When I started my first company “KAJE Notebooks”, it was called “Embrace Change” at first. Quite a bad name for a company selling sustainable paper notebooks. Further the first working prototype of the product we build literally just had a blank back paper sheet as cover. Later when we launched the official product, none of our customers asked or even cared how the prototype looked like. So you shouldn’t care much about it as well.
My point is that it never matters where you start out. You can improve on the details later. Get the most basic function out there and you are good to start. Just do it.
The law of diminishing returns
This is one of the most basic laws in economics. (see the exact definition on Wikipedia) In short it means that the more time or money you invest in something the additional return you get for each additional hour or dollar invested gets smaller and smaller. The more you invest, the smaller the average return per hour or dollar will become. At some point of time throwing more money at a project will (in theory) even hurt you. So when you aim for perfectionism, be prepared, it will cost you a lot. So is it really worth it, or could you spend your time and money better on something else?
Perfectionism hurts your self-esteem
As perfectionism is impossible to reach, you will always fail in achieving it. There will always be something wrong. When you keep on failing and never reach your goals, your self-esteem will be hurt. All those unfinished or ‘failed’ projects will pile up, until you can’t find the way out anymore.
Not only your projects, but also your social life will be damaged. When you expect perfection of your friends or partner you are guaranteed to be disappointed. Or you will steadily be on the look for new better friends or a new partner to ‘replace’ those old faulty ones. I am exaggerating here of course, but if you think it through often that’s what following a mindset of perfection will feel like.
Aim for good enough
Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for good enough! What exactly good enough is, is up to you. One way to think of it is the 80/20 rule. When you complete the 20% of your tasks that give you 80% of the result it can be good enough already.
Or if you take a software design perspective the definition of good enough would be: Good enough to fit the requirements. So while you need to deliver on the requirements customer have, you don’t need to go above it.