Stop searching for perfection and take action

Stop searching for perfection and take action

We all so desperately want to produce output of magnificent standards that will awe the people around us, but in our search for perfection we only find desperation as we end up never finishing our projects.

There’s nothing wrong with making the absolute best work you can, but if it means you end up without a product when you need it, it becomes a barrier and it’s time to let go.


Perfection is an impossibility. It’s that simple. And we all know it, so why do we do it?

Sometimes we feel we’re not good enough. Or that the work we do is not good enough, and it becomes a subconscious sign to the world around us, and to ourselves, that we are capable of great things (i.e. we are more than good enough, and here’s the proof).

Everything you’ve done since your first day of school has been measured and graded by how well you met the output criteria your teachers wanted, instead of on your input or how well you developed – which created value in results and not improvement. So, a lot of the way we show our value is in our results. Subconsciously: The better your results the more value you have.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean everything you do is a cry for the world to accept you. We’re addressing the obsessive urge, the need, to go above and beyond to a point where it holds you back and you end up not finishing your projects. That’s where it becomes an issue.

Because you do need high quality work if you want to achieve certain things in your professional and personal life. So, don’t go for barely acceptable on your next project just because you feel good about yourself (unless that is OK with you, in which case go for it, my friend).

But do understand that your search for perfection can hold you back. Because even though your output might be better by your endless evaluations of details, what you actually do is to push the end of the project further along, instead of finishing it.

I started a novel last year, and sat down to write one day. I had a great idea for a scene and spent the next three hours in a café, typing and thinking, which resulted in one glorious paragraph. After three hours of work I had written less than 200 words. The quality was high and I loved what I had made but I also realized it would take me half a lifetime to finish the project – if it ever would be.


What should I do then?

Take action.

As the old proverb goes: If in doubt… take action.

Because action drives you forward and forces you to do something instead of wallowing in details and endless iterations.

Let go of the quality and focus on quantity.

First create quantity and then cut away at it to create quality. Because that way you start out with a semi-finished product which you can then spend whatever remaining resources you have, be they time, money, energy or other, to heighten the quality until you’re satisfied or run out of resources. Either way: you finished your project with the means you had at your disposal and you now have something to show for it.

It’s easier to cut away the edges of a large block of stone to make a beautiful statue than it is to create a rock from the bottom up, in the same shape.

That’s what I did with my novel – I tried to make it perfect from the first sentence. Until I joined a 31-day writing challenge, where I learned to let go of my search for perfection and take action instead… and finished my novel a few months later.


Don’t let your search for perfection stop you from doing what you want. You can spend decades on something that’s almost perfect, but if it never sees the light of day, a quick draft would have been better. Do the best work you can, but don’t wait to bring it into public until you think it’s perfect, because it never will be. Take action. Be bold.



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