How To Beat Perfectionism
Perfection Is The Enemy of Completion
How Many projects get abandoned before they are released because they are not perfect?
I can speak from experience because I am great at starting things but not as good at finishing them.
I think of the times I put so much work into something, only to discard it when it's 90% completed.
So much remains un-”done”.
There is nothing wrong with having high-standards and striving towards perfection, but the toxicity arises when we wait until something is perfect to realease it.
The Best Thing I Have nEver Seen
The main reason for abandoning the work is that you don't feel fully equipped or are not happy with the calibre of the work.
In most cases, all you needed to do was go live with the idea and then improve, iterate, and edit it over time.
This fear to go live stems from 3 main influences:
Fear of failure
Lack of resources
Inability to realise your initial vision.
As a result of the need to feel 100% ready and complete, you get stuck in a rut, and your precious work, which may be of immense value to people, never sees the light of day.
Nothing is as Good, or Bad as it Seems.
Once you hold a vision of your creation, expect that the realisation of the end product may not be exactly as you anticipated.
No matter how good your idea may seem, once tested by reality, it may not evoke the same response as your initial idea.
We tend to exaggerate our feeling based on some fictional future that we imagine.
Even if the end goal exceeds your expectations, your emotional response may not be as strong as you imagined.
It would help if you accepted the reality that things don't turn out as you expect, and Instead of seeing your work as complete, it may help to think of it as a contribution that can be built upon by yourself and others.
Scientists and artists are faced with the reality often because much of their work involves building on pre-existing creations.
Their discoveries and art may never amount to anything, but the iteration of their work will get them closer to their goals and help the next person build atop the foundations.
Start From Where You Are
When you look back, it is easy to realise that almost nothing is perfect the first time.
Looking back at early animations and computer-generated graphics reveals what the cutting edge of technology looked like.
You can imagine that the artists and directors had a vision of what their creation should be.
Then they had to work with the tools available at the time to bring their stories to life.
A case in point here is the early character representations of the Simpsons as they first appeared.
The designers and producers had to start with what they had at the time and make the most of their available resources.
The same goes for early games and even the user interfaces of computer systems.
Many people have the thought, "When I get x, or when x happens, then I can create".
For example, "when I have a fully functional music studio, then I can make good music". But, unfortunately, the thoughts stop them from realising that they can make music with basic tools, and even though it might not be your idea of perfect, at least it is a start.
If you want to do or create something, don't let anything stop you. Instead, realise that you can make some version by starting from where you are in your life, whatever your situation may be.
Let Things Evolve With You
Over time, and as technology progressed, an artist could get closer to their idea of perfect.
When the tools and resources became available, the work evolved, allowing the creators to realise their true vision.
The feedback and time elapsed provided rich information that the creators would not have captured if they had not put out a version of their product, even if it did not seem 100% perfect.
I implore you to shift your perspective.
Instead of thinking of something as finished or complete, see it as "done for now". Then, share your creations and revelations.
Each attempt is an experiment that will get you closer to your next step.
“Perfection does not need to be a result. Perfection can be a process.” - Mark Manson
Practice, Release, Iterate.
Striving towards perfection is a lofty goal, but do not let it stop you from taking your creations to life and sharing them with the world.
People get immense value from sharing work, and if you have something that the world needs, don't be afraid to release a beta version.
It is best to go live with a minimum viable product than to never release anything.
The first draft will need editing, and the first attempt will need to be followed up, but if you do not create the first draft, then nothing has been gained.
People focus too much on being 100% ready and knowing everything in advance; they'll never get anywhere. People that have dedicated their lives to something still don't know everything. Eventually, you just need to go for it.