Last week, in preparation for an upcoming training I’m leading, I made a trip to Office Max. As I looked around for Post-its and Sharpies, I overheard a conversation between a mom and a daughter. They were huddled around the daughter’s school supply list. The mom’s brow was furrowed, and her daughter looked stressed. I heard them exclaim, “But we need a yellow folder for Mr. Johnson’s class!” I could hear the stress rising in both of their voices, looking for the sunflower shade of yellow Mr. Johnson required. Just around the display, I heard another mom and her daughter talking. They were huddled around the markers. “But Mom, the list says I need a 12 pack of markers, not a 10 pack!” The mom looked exhausted. She looked at her daughter and with total sincerity said, “Honey, we’ve been to two stores already, and we couldn’t find the 12 pack. A 10 pack will have to do. Done is better than perfect, and I’m ready to get this done.” She waited for her daughter’s understanding nod and gave her a quick squeeze, before heading to the check out.
I stood there in amazement. I wondered if this mom knew that just an hour before, I was stressing about the details of an upcoming presentation. I was going over the slides for the millionth time, making tiny edits and changes, fully planning to tweak it for several more hours the following week. Done is better than perfect. I’ve heard those words before, but as a lifetime perfectionist, I probably pushed them away. But something about them hit me different that day.
Done is better than perfect. Do you need to hear that?
If you’re a perfectionist, you probably find yourself stressing over details. Tweaking, retweaking, then tweaking some more. You spend hours on small projects and stress about making things just right. It’s a deep rooted impulse for some of us. But here’s the deal with perfectionism. It comes at a cost. To your health, to your sanity, to your sleep, and to your energy. At some point, it’s enough. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’ve done, it’s enough. Getting it done and over and off your plate is better than getting it perfect.
Taking on a new project at work? Do an awesome job, but remember, done is better than perfect.
Planning your kid’s upcoming birthday party? Make it awesome and special, but don’t be exhausted and cranky because you pushed yourself too hard. Done is better than perfect.
Trying to do a deep clean of your house when you’re pressed for time, with a million other things to do? Do what you can, and call it a day. Done is better than perfect.
Deciding to choose done versus perfect isn’t easy for perfectionists, but it’s a switch that can make a big difference. I’m still a fan of giving a good effort and putting out a quality product, but remember, there is a difference between good and perfect. And that difference is often your happiness and sanity.
I’m planning to use this phrase, “Done is better than perfect,” as my motto for the month. I plan to repeat it over and over, giving myself 30 days to help it sink in. You with me?
What are you currently trying to do perfectly, and how could you use this motto in your own life?
PS: Did you like this post? If so, don’t miss this one.
Thanks Allison. That is so profound. I had to write that motto down just so I could refer back to it when my perfectionism gets out of hand.
Oh I’m so glad Dana! And kudos for writing it down; that makes is MUCH easier to use when your perfectionism shows up. Thanks for commenting!
I love this mantra … Will be using it… Have seen how perfectionists sometimes also end up hurting others (esp loved and close ones as well) in the process…