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Usually, great work comes from our desire to do our best. We all want to produce something of high quality, something to be proud of.
But sometimes we go too far, we seem to never be happy with our results, and we can find ourselves stuck on one task or product because of details that seem to not match the sky-high standards we set for ourselves.
In this article, I will give you some practical tips that can help you get unstuck and overcome perfectionism.
Seek Outside Feedback
Feedback normally triggers productive perfectionism. If a client is not entirely happy with your work, makes comments or suggestions, it is obviously good for you and for your business to retrace your steps and spend a little more time on the project and adjust procedures or processes. It is positive perfectionism because it is not self-limiting and has concrete results, such as your client or manager’s satisfaction.
But if your situation allows it, looking for outside feedback on your work even when not strictly necessary can help you overcome your own unproductive perfectionism. Chances are, an outsider will have a better, kinder opinion on your results than you do. That is because we are often our own enemies and assume the worst.
Taking your doubts to someone else and literally out of your mind does wonders if you are obsessing over details.
Figure Out If It Can Be Good Enough
The level of attention to detail you expect from yourself should depend on the specifics of your project. There are situations where ‘good enough’ really is good enough.
This is especially true if you are working on something that can be adjusted or expanded in the future. This very article is an example – I can always return to it and adjust the little odds and ends, or write more extensively on the topic in the future, even if it’s already been published.
Unfortunately, not all products are flexible like an article, and there are situations where you will need to deliver your best work and have the highest attention to detail the first time. That is obviously the case if you are building a highway overpass….or at least we all hope that’s the case.
But for most of us, that is not the reality of our daily projects, and that is why things like minimum viable products (MVP) exist.
So if you are feeling like you are getting obsessed with the details and your project, try to think about whether you can move it towards perfection in the future.
Do Your Best
There are situations when things don’t go as expected, and we have less time or less ideal working conditions than we thought. If that is the case, you just have to trust yourself. If you are working on this particular project, it is because you are good at it, and your best will be a great job anyway. If you doubt it, circle back to the “seek outside feedback” section and find out what others not involved in the project think.
Once you have reminded yourself of this, it is much easier to do your best and get your product out there. Nobody wants to publish, sell, or create a poor quality product. If you believe in yourself, you will know that you owe it to yourself to put it out there, because it is good, it works and it’s going to help others.
This will also involve other people – your colleagues and team members, your audience, your clients and managers – and will get you valuable outside feedback. It is a positive and productive loop.
Hopefully, by now you have decided that you want to get to work and get it done. You know you can.