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Fear of imperfection – It hurts you more than it helps

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Argh, perfection

I’ve said it several times already, but the fear of imperfection is hurting you big time.

It can come from your own inner critic, social pressure or your insecurities.
You’re constantly worrying that you’ll do something wrong or that you’re not good enough.

Don’t get stuck in perfectionism before you even start. When you freak out about every little detail, you lose so much time.

It’s paralyzing and not worth it. Sometimes, good can (and should be) enough.

A few years ago, I put this quote from Sheryl Sandberg’s book (Lean in) on my desktop “Done is better than perfect”.

It was a reminder to get things done first and then perfect it if there still is time.

Sheryl Sandberg’s quote is spot on.
It’s no use to get hung up on perfection if it means you can’t deliver on time.

Of course, you want to give your best. And when you constantly fear that you will mess up, it can be hard to let go.

Especially at work, I tend to obsess about every little detail – and that’s fine as long as you have the luxury of time.

Fear of imperfection leads to overkill

Fear of imperfection: Good can be enough

Sometimes good is enough and perfect is overkill. Even okay can be fine. It all depends. Let me give you a specific example:

I listen to a podcast with a “kind of okay”-quality. The host says herself that “this is not a fancy podcast” and it’s true. There is no jingle, no intro, the sound quality isn’t great (but okay) and she doesn’t edit the podcast either.

Sometimes you can hear a dog bark, a cat meow or birds chirp. Or she gets lost in a rant that’s a bit off-topic.

But it honestly doesn’t matter. I’m still interested in what she has to say, and I couldn’t care less about the occasional sheep in the background.

She doesn’t fear imperfection and that’s great. If she insisted on a “better quality” podcast she might do them less often or maybe not at all.

Everything doesn’t have to be perfect

Naturally, we want to deliver value. And we also don’t want to be judged by anyone who might have seen a mistake we missed.

But you can still deliver great value even if some things are not perfect. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about quality. Of course, you should.

This is not about doing messy work.

But there’s a difference between delivering good enough quality, and endless fussing, tweaking, and editing to make it perfect.

You may even worry to a point where you don’t dare to show your work to anyone because it doesn’t meet your arbitrary high standards.

Overthinking has never helped anybody and it’s important to get out of your head. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Fear of imperfection: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

The fear of imperfection will make you waste precious time you could invest much better. It also costs you opportunities because you were too scared to show up.

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Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of your message or your idea.
If you aim too high, you risk never getting off the ground.

It really is okay if you start with good. Some evevn go as far as to say that you should deliver the lowest viable quality.

This is the lowest effort you can make for something that people will still want. Like with this podcast I told you about.

It’s crazy if you think about it: Every minute you invest in making it better than necessary is a waste of time! And you probably tend to invest hours.

You will shoot yourself in the foot if you spend all this time on everything.
Not everything has to be that great.

Happy creating to you all. May your imperfections be glorious!

Is there anything you’d like to add? Are you rather a perfectionist yourself, trying to get better at letting go?


Improve yourself. Improve your life!

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