“Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” ~ Voltaire
Why would we want to fight perfectionism? Isn’t perfect what we’re after? We want to do our best work, put our best foot forward. If we’re going to be responsible for something— a project, a report, a business— why should we settle for anything less than perfect?
The basic answer to this question is simple: nothing is going to be perfect, no matter how hard we try. One of the things we need to keep in mind as we work for perfection is the law of diminishing returns. The closer we come to getting it perfect, the harder it is to make any headway. What gains we make come at an increasingly high cost of time, effort and missed opportunities elsewhere.
A better way of looking at things is to do a cost-benefit analysis. How much time and work is it going to take to produce a professional product? What do I gain by putting in the effort to improve it? Ask yourself: is this a difference that’s actually going to make a difference?
Is a pursuit of perfection always a good thing? Not everyone agrees. In fact, there is an entire branch of Japanese philosophy called Wabi Sabi that teaches us to embrace our imperfections and the imperfections of the world around us.
So do your best, but don’t become so obsessed with perfection that you lose sight of your overall goals.