Perfectionism is a common obstacle that new developers, entrepreneurs and young people face. All of them have some dreams and goals: to become better at their craft, earn more, be happier, travel the world, lose or gain weight. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver: big dreams never come true, goals are never achieved. Why? One of the reasons is perfectionism. The goals and dreams are always idealized, that’s why people think that the beginnings have to be perfect too. On the contrary, they have to fail to learn and iterate. Through these failures, they will be able to study and finally understand more. This way, focused on delivering not on perfectionism, they may eventually achieve their goals and make their dreams come true.
Disclaimer: Author knows that this post is not perfect and it’s not supposed to be, because it’s the first post on this blog.
I started to work as a developer(Ruby&Rails) in May 2017.
I wanted to develop my first product(s) in 2018.
I was very into producing perfect code. I thought using the shiniest technology at the beginning of building a product was the best.
I was thinking about products/startups in terms of apps - perfect code, perfect design, bugfree, etc.
I realized that to actually deliver something I had to change my perfect-oriented mindset.
Perfect became something that works, something that someone can see or use.
I almost delivered two products that I am about to finish nowadays. One of them is Retrochat (Retrospective Slack Bot) and another one is some cybersecurity SaaS, which I am working on with a business partner. None of them are perfect, but they are good enough.
It took me a really long time to change my mindset. I did it thanks to multiple forums related to building startups and also due to my own firsthand experience in working at startups.
Unfortunately, I got to experience how terribly perfectionism can affect your life. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do: work, lose/gain weight, learn, spend time with family. Whatever you are doing, it doesn’t need to be perfect, quite the opposite, it can be bad at the beginning, so you could learn from your mistakes and get better and better at whatever you are doing. So don’t let perfectionism stop you from reaching your goals or just enjoying life.
Where does that perfectionism mindset come from
I guess the root cause of perfectionism is early education. Teachers, parents, everyone wants you to be an A student. Did you get a B? Damn it, why didn’t you score an A?! But do you really have to score A’s from everything? Why is a C/D grade not good enough? Is studying subject A really that important? Maybe it’s so boring, maybe you could be chasing girls/boys instead? Am I serious, education has so much value! Well, I agree, it does, but so does being happy, so does being able to communicate with other people. I’d argue that, for instance, salespeople need to know how to talk to people or maybe even how to listen to them. Without that ability they wouldn’t be able to sell and without selling, they can’t earn money - no one is gonna hire them.
Everyone and everything is imperfect
Perfectionism really depends on the point of view, but still, you shouldn’t aim for perfection. We are not robots, we make mistakes all the time, even with the stuff that we are so good at. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at desktop operating systems that are developed by one of the smartest developers on the planet in the really big corporations worth billions of dollars.
Windows? It’s so slow and full of malware. Not perfect.
Linux? 2%, lol. Not perfect.
MacOS? The price… Not good enough? Can I install it on my PC? Not perfect.
Others? Not perfect either.
But still all of them have users and earn a lot of money for their creators, yet they are not perfect. Not convinced? Do you remember Samsung Galaxy Note 7? Such a terrible failure and done by such a giant. There are a lot more cases like this. Even if there are failed projects, companies move forward. So why are you so obsessed with perfectionism, when much more experienced and smarter people/companies are doing mistakes all the time. It’s your time to do them too!
I hope you are convinced already that perfectionism is just a trap and you should avoid it. If you aren’t convinced then continue reading and feel free to reach out to me to tell me your point of view:)
How to fight with the perfectionism
1. Set realistic goals
Let’s say, you would like to learn a new language. Instead of looking for a perfect book, notes or other resources, just get any kind of book and start! It doesn’t have to be an hour per day. Just start with 10 minutes per day. I promise that eventually, you will probably spend more time on it, but only if you feel like it.
2. Aim for good enough
Look, my English is far from perfect, it’s not a native level. I wish it was, but the truth is, if I didn’t use my broken English I wouldn’t be able to write this post. I think my English is just good enough, I could write this post in the end, it’s not perfect, but I am sure you can understand most of the content. It’s GOOD ENOUGH.
3. Does it have to be perfect?
Ask that question whenever you feel like you are spending too much time on details. A lot of times, they don’t matter. Do you really think that I want to a spend whole day writing this blog post, maybe even rewrite it a couple of times before I share it with you? No. The first version is good enough. If you don’t like it or feel like something is missing, you can just contact me and I’ll be happy to fill in the missing part. I have other stuff to do, like finally finishing Retrochat or just spend time with my family.
4. Start simple and small
I’m sure you have big goals, big ambitions, but the truth is that first, you have to climb the small steps before you reach the peak. Don’t spend time overthinking, over dreaming or over planning. Just do it, as the famous commercial says.
5. Even if you are PRO, it doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be done PRO way
Let’s say you are good at dancing. You practice a lot, you’ve won some championships. You are well known in your circle. Should it stop you from learning a new type of dance, because you are not gonna be PRO in it? No. Should you perform like a champion at a casual party hosted by friends? NOPE, what for?
6. Don’t expect others to be perfect
You aren’t perfect, neither the others. It’s human nature. Don’t be afraid to point out that someone’s perfectionism is actually blocking them and maybe even you. It’s okay to do mistakes. The sooner you realize it, the faster you will be able to deliver good enough results.
7. Learn from others
I think it’s important to learn from other people’s mistakes. Obviously, you won’t be able to reach perfection just by reading some books. Although, it may be enough to reach better results in a shorter span of time. Sometimes you may even achieve a result better than GOOD ENOUGH. So do study other people’s experiences, but be prepared to fail anyway.
8. Don’t stress
No matter what you do, don’t stress that you failed. It happens and will happen. The more you fail, the more you deliver. The more you deliver, the closer you get to reaching your goal. Most of the times it’s just not worth stressing.
Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Surely, it won’t be perfect at the beginning of your new path. It doesn’t have to be perfect even if you traveled the path for a long time already. Everyone has limits. Just do good enough and spend the rest of the time doing other things that are probably also equally important.
The end. As I said, feel free to talk to me by email or in the comments.