Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
What in world does that mean?
It’s one of those little nuggets of advice that people love to throw out there, and that is exactly what I have always thought each time the words came my way.
It was one of those sayings that just never really resonated with me. I mean, who wants good? Good doesn’t seem like a solid place to aim. I want better than good. I want great. I want outstanding….hey, I kind of even like perfect. (Shhh…some people don’t like when you say that.) But recently, these words have been finding me again, and I’ve realized I’ve been missing their essence. I’ve come to understand that the essence…the important part of this message, really is:
Good is a whole heck of a lot better than diddly squat.
I have learned that things that may start out as good can evolve into something much, much better, something great, something that might even feel just perfect.
But diddly squat…yeah, it doesn’t evolve…AT ALL. It just stays diddly squat.
So what does this mean? It means we can’t get so bogged down in trying to plan the perfect that we fail to begin. If you never begin, you don’t have to worry if what you have is good, or great, or wonderful, because you will have nothing at all.
Don’t get me wrong; a good plan for anything can be invaluable. But we can’t get stuck in the planning. I know for myself, if I’m not careful, too often the planning can become like the Molasses Swamp of Candy Land. You just sit there waiting to draw the perfect card as everybody else keeps moving forward. That is when perfect becomes the enemy of good.
The fact of the matter is, even if we believe we have created the fail-proof, perfectly crafted, fulfilling plan; once you actually get out there and start living and doing your plan, it rarely ends up going exactly how you think. Success requires us to make adjustments to our plans. So we might as well get to the doing, so that we can get to the adjusting, and then…..well, success!
You Have to Get Your Boat Out on the Water
Have you ever watched someone sail or sailed yourself? This kind of reminds me of sailing. Sure you have to do a little planning ahead of time, that’s being smart. You make sure all of the parts of the boat are in good repair, you check that you have proper safety equipment in case something goes wrong, you decide where you will sail. BUT, the good stuff won’t happen until you put your boat into the water and raise your sail.
Only then can you see what is really going to happen and what needs to be done. Depending on the wind you will have to make some adjustments, you might change your method, or you might change your course. But you begin to figure out your next steps because what you need to do next usually becomes very clear. If the wind dies you might even have to paddle your boat back in and start another day. But none of this can happen until you actually get your boat out there on the water.
This is something that has always been a challenge for me. I have a tendency to want to iron out every single last detail before I begin something new. Or, I research all the possible outcomes before I make a decision. Yup, I have a tendency to let perfect be the enemy of good…ahhh…I’m starting to understand!
But recently, I have been working on spending less time in that thinking space and more time in the doing place. As I have begun to try this more and more in my own life, both with small projects, and with big life decisions; I must say, it is actually kind of liberating to just give yourself permission to begin, and know it’s ok that you don’t have it all figured out.
And guess what? I have never yet, not once, felt the need to reprimand myself, wishing I had hung out in the planning stages longer. I really need to remind myself of this when I feel myself beginning to get stuck there.
So how about you?
Is there something you have been wanting to start but haven’t? Is there something you’ve been wanting to try, or do differently? A task you’ve wanted to get done or a project you’ve wanted to complete? What changes in your life have you been wanting to make? Where have you gotten a bit stalled out and need a little push?
Here is your push.
Whatever it is, big or small, name it. Name the thing you want to do, or decide, or be, but haven’t yet. Then just pick ONE actionable step that you can take that will move you in the direction of change- just one thing that you can DO today, or at least this week. Give yourself permission that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that you don’t have to figure it all out. You can and always will, adjust. The only thing you have to figure out is that first step.
The only thing you have to do, is begin.
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