Personal Development

How to Stop Striving for Perfection and Strive for Completion

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How to Stop Striving for Perfection and Strive for Completion

Does this sound familiar:

You've got a project to complete, whether it be an essay, sorting your files out, clearing your house, a post, a book, a new product to create, a website, anything really.   The trouble is, you just don't think it's right to send out into the world or to let others know that it's completed, because 'it's not quite right'.   You want it to be perfect before you can tell yourself, and others,  it's complete.

Striving for perfection is harming your mind, and your life – honestly, nothing, and I mean nothing, in this world can be created perfectly or completed perfectly.

Perfection is subjective; your idea of perfection is not necessarily the same as my idea of perfection, and even your idea of perfection now, will not be the same in a few years time.

Think about one of the biggest companies in the world – Apple.   Apple will be releasing it's new iPhone 5 soon.   That means there have been 4 other iPhone versions previous to the new one that's coming out.   If the first one was so perfect why didn't they just stick to the iPhone, instead of releasing iPhone 1,2,3, 4 and soon iPhone 5; because Apple knows that the world is constantly changing at a rapid pace.   So what they do is build a prototype, get beta testers, get feedback and iron out the kinks to make it better, before shipping it out to the world, and then they go to work on how to make it even better with a new version.

Your Mind Version 34

Yes technology is constantly evolving, that's why new versions of phones, computers, and mp3 players come out all the time.   Well, it's the same with us. We are constantly evolving, our ideas, our tastes, our feelings, our thoughts are constantly changing.    Think back to a few years ago, what clothes were you wearing, would you wear the same clothes today, probably not as your fashion sense has changed since then.   I remember wearing a grey shiny suit, with sleeves rolled up, with a pink shirt, a red leather tie and red leather shoes (yep the Miami Vice look:) ) but I wouldn't dream of wearing that today.  Our minds are constantly evolving, so something that you complete today and you see as p

Striving for completion

We live in a world where personal productivity is crucial to our success, so we have to find ways to complete the projects we start.   To do this our goal should not be perfection but completion.  

Did you know that James Patterson, the world famous author,  doesn't write his own first drafts when he is co-authoring a book.   He gets someone else to write the first draft of a book and then he goes in and polishes it up.   James Patterson is responsible for 6% of all hardback books sold in the United States, and has written 71 novels in 33 years, that's 1 book every 5 and half months.   James admits he's not a great prose stylist, but compensates by being a great storyteller.   So his goal is to complete the book then polish it to his own style, which is not the same as perfecting it.

Setting standards

You may be thinking that standards will be poor if you focus on completion rather than perfection.   That's not necessarily the case.   The more you do something means your standards will become higher.   My very first blog post is extremely poor compared to this blog post today.   You start to see the things you are doing wrong naturally and adjust accordingly the more you do something.

Every single one of my products at was written with completion in mind, then a polish at the end of the completion.   It's frustrating to start something, then try to make it perfect, and the two times I have tried for perfection I didn't complete the projects.

Challenge yourself

If you could start any kind of project this month what would it be? Challenge yourself to finish it within an allotted time, but don't think about how good or bad it is, think about completing it.   It could be anything at all: starting a blog, painting your house, writing a book, build a website, joining the gym, starting a business, anything at all.

The joy of completion is far better than the pain of a perfect, half completed project.

What things could you be completing this month but haven't because perfection has got in the way?  

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.