Note: This article was originally shared on June 4th, 2013. This is an updated and edited version of that article.
While working with small business owners I bump into the issue of perfectionism a great deal. We all worry about what other people think of us but this becomes a particularly acute problem for small business owners whose success is directly related to their personal credibility and how they are perceived by others.
As an example, a client I’ll call “Jane” was building a WordPress website for her business and she was unsure how she wanted it to look.
WordPress allows users to change the look and feel of an entire website at the click of a button by switching from one theme to another. There are thousands of free WordPress themes and Jane was overwhelmed by the choice. She wanted the website to be just perfect.
What Is “Just Perfect”?
I find the concept of “just perfect” interesting. What exactly does that mean?
For many the idea of “just perfect” means that what we choose has to be top of the line or in the top one percent. It needs to be better than everyone else.
But is that really worth striving for?
I don’t think it is.
Often “just perfect” means that it is doing its job.
Where building a new website is concerned, it needs to provide information to prospective clients, so “just perfect” means that the site is visually clear, and easy to navigate and understand.
A $40 logo can be perfectly acceptable, so there’s no need to spend $4000 on one.
Plain, easy-to-read text does the job just fine, so animations and videos are optional extras.
Ideally, a website is a delivery system for great content. Jane’s readers will visit the site because of what they want to learn, not because of its fancy design.
That’s not to downplay beautiful design and the thought that goes into the look and feel of a good website BUT it’s important to understand the concept of “good enough”. Especially when we are just starting out, good enough is an excellent goal.
When Not Perfect = Failing
It is amazing that many of us feel like we have failed when something is just good enough.
We have been taught constantly to strive for better. We have been encouraged to dream. We long for a richer life. Because of all this expectation, we believe that if something isn’t perfect, then it is bad.
I believe that in the majority of cases, good enough IS good enough!
Years ago, my father gave me a great example of understanding this concept. In order to sell a new product at work he needed to get at least 70% in a certification exam. In the weeks leading up to the exam he studied diligently. When he got home from the test I asked him how he did and he told me, “I got 74%…I studied too hard.”
He knew exactly what good enough was. He wasn’t looking for an ego boost in wanting the best score in the region or needing to prove anything to himself (or anyone else). He just needed to pass the test so that he could move on to the next thing.
Being Perfect At Being Good Enough
I was talking about the idea of “good enough is good enough” with another client. She asked, “How do I master the idea of ‘knowing good enough is good enough’?”
I paused for a moment.
And then she laughed at herself as she realized how ridiculous that statement was…she had just asked “How do I be perfect at ‘not needing to be perfect all the time’?”
The key to transforming our sense of perfectionism is first to be easy with ourselves, and to be easy with the process of not being so hard on ourselves. By doing this we can focus on what is needed to be successful and release the need for everything to be perfect in order to be successful.
Here’s a tapping script you can use when you are struggling with the need to be perfect when good enough is just that:
It is important that I continue to strive in my life…There are parts of my life that I would like to be richer…There are relationships I would like to be fuller…I have gifts and talents I want to share with the world…But this doesn’t mean that everything has to be the very best…It is important that I keep all of my goals in perspective…Just because something can be done better doesn’t mean that it has to be done better…My laundry needs to be folded well enough…My bed needs to be made well enough…My car needs to be parallel parked well enough…It is possible for me to do all these things better…But nothing would be achieved by the extra effort…There are so many things I would like to grow into…That I need only spend as much time as is necessary on each task…I don’t want to do less than is necessary…But it is important that I maintain balance and perspective…What is essential is the final goal…Not each of the pieces…I give myself permission to be comfortable with good enough…And to know that good enough isn’t settling…But instead by achieving good enough I am giving myself the time and resources for all the parts making up what I am trying to achieve…I am going to keep the big picture in mind…To understand what is good enough in each situation…Good enough is not failing…It is good enough…And that is just perfect.