Why “near enough” is almost always good enough

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In many professions, it is constantly reinforced that perfection isn’t something to strive for; its the standard. When a client trusts you with their business or life, you have a professional obligation to act to the best of your ability. But this post isn't about excelling at work… it is to ask if this attitude is contaminating your life?

Do you feel anxious about “putting yourself out there”, afraid of what people might think?  Or have you been sitting on a great idea for ages because you are worried that its not quite there yet and you might fail?

I know I am guilty of both of these things, which got me thinking about how constantly striving for perfectionism in all aspects of our lives is toxic, and can hold us back more than we care to acknowledge.

The risk of setting unrealistic expectations on your life

We all know the old saying “no one is perfect”. So why do we continue to throw it around, while feeling anxious and concerned about failing?

If you were a surgeon, and someone’s life is in your hands, then “near enough” is never good enough. But most of us aren’t surgeons - and its unlikely that someone will die as a result of something we do being good, but not quite 100%.

And before you jump to assume that I am advocating a half hearted approach to life, you could not be more wrong. We should always strive to do our best, however, I have realised that it’s time to consciously make the expectations that I place on my life more realistic.

A good example is this blog. As my close friends and family are well aware, this is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I hesitated for months because I was worried what people would think - about me starting a blog, about my writing, about what I wanted to write about. You name it, I stressed about it.

Even though my blog is now live, I still worry that its not good enough. But it has taught me many lessons about having confidence in my abilities, and also trying to to stop second, third, even fourth guessing myself!

Keen to see how “near enough” could be good enough for you? Here’s my plan:

  1. Find the right environment to build your confidence. A friend recently changed jobs and commented on the huge jump in her confidence and contributions at work, particularly after being in a job where her input was rarely valued. Find the right environment for you to trust yourself and your judgment. If it isn’t at work, perhaps join a group or find a volunteer role?
  2. Look at it from your audiences’ perspective. Take time to consider how your idea will be received by others. Everyone is their own harshest critic, and often what you perceive to be a flaw won’t even be noticed by your audience. Every day I think of ways to improve my blog and it often frustrates me that I can’t “fix everything” immediately. However, the feedback I have received has been overwhelming supportive and positive, a testament to my “near enough” being good enough.
  3. Be ready to adapt and change. Your perfect is not the same as someone else’s perfect, and you never know what insights others might offer. If you are caught up with your own idea of perfection, you may miss opportunities that external feedback can provide. Getting your idea out there before it’s “finalised” gives you an opportunity to hear how others think it could be improved and see what “perfect” really looks like. Learn to make constructive criticism your friend (I think there is a whole new post there!).

Maybe its time to ask yourself if are you holding yourself back because you think your idea isn’t quite good enough yet, or if toxic perfectionism is fuelling your fear of failure?

Perhaps its time to take the plunge?

Phoebe.

photo credit: AndyWilson via photopin cc