Stalled at the Start: Beware of Seeking Perfection
The enemy of good is perfection. Voltaire
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George Patton
These are 2 quotes that I constantly play in my head, along with Nike’s “Just do it” and Larry the Cable Guy’s less eloquent version “Git-r-done.” I find myself and clients constantly looking for the right time/ decision/ direction/ process and it completely paralyzes progress.
Because perfection does not exist and time marches on.
My lovely grandmother had an extremely intricate and detailed filing system for her papers that was a beauty to behold. When you opened the filing cabinet, the folders were lined up with typed labels and tabs with nary a crease or wrinkle in sight. The problem was it was too complicated to remember and follow so papers never got filed. She was always looking for the right time and enough of it to start filing the papers away but, as you can guess, that time never came. The secondary filing system, a.k.a. putting them in a bag and tossing it in the closet, was implemented instead because the “perfect” system was too hard to follow even though she didn’t want to admit it. #truth
Now you can guess as well as I how that system worked when it came time to retrieve one of those papers. It meant more time spent trying to find which bag held what and, more often than not, the paper was never found. It pains me to think of what all was in those bags: checks, personal letters, photos….
Even writing a To Do list, which is the first step to task and goal accomplishment, can be derailed by the many options swirling in our heads:
what paper should I use? which pen? should it be a sticky note or regular paper? what if i lose the paper? maybe it should be on my phone so I don’t lose it. but putting notes on my phone takes so long. I never look at Notes on my phone. where do they go? oh, there’s a text alert. I should read it. Got to go now. I’ll just remember what I need to do. How hard can that be?
*yawn* I’m already exhausted. Yet that’s how a lot of us feel when it comes to writing a To Do list or putting papers away or organizing a closet. “I don’t know where to get started.” “I don’t want to do this wrong.” “What if I lose interest in the middle of this and then I have a bigger pile than I already do?”
The point is we can be our own worst enemy in our path to success. You have to start somewhere and it might as well be now. Your plan will change. The path you take to get to the finish line will not be the same one you started on. You can’t wait for the perfect time to make the perfect decision. That time does not exist.
You create the perfect plan when you get started. You can (and will) polish it later. You’ll try a tactic that may not work so you go back to your plan, revise, and keep going. Again and again. Honing and repolishing. It isn’t perfect because it is always in a state of revision. Which makes it perfect.
If you never start, you remain in place, which is the opposite of further down the road.
So just get started. Write that To Do list on the back of a cocktail napkin or deposit slip. If you lose it, start over. It won’t look pretty but you’ll learn plenty and at least be further than you were before.