What is perfection? We use the noun and its relative forms so often, that we think it’s perfectly natural:
“That meal was perfect! Top marks!”
“The ending to that book was pure perfection. Couldn’t have done it better myself!”
“You played that piece of music perfectly. Well done!”
And so on and so on.
By these casual comments, you’d be forgiven for thinking that flawlessness is an everyday occurrence. This couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter, how brilliantly fabulously fantastic you think something is, the truth is that it can always be improved upon. So should you end up wasting time, painfully picking over every detail, or accept that you have truly tried your best and move on?
Let’s examine this in the following scenario…
Take for example, you are in an exam. You have two hours to complete it and you have revised well for the big day. There are seven questions to complete. You spend far too much time on the first six questions and time-management has gone out of the window (it’s been thrown out in fact!) as you attempt to write down every precise detail in relation to the exam questions. The first six questions range from a minimum of three marks to a maximum of five. So far, so good, it seems. You feel confident that you will get extremely good marks so far. Then you turn over the question paper to see that the final and most important question is worth fifty marks and you only have left yourself ten minutes to answer it, when you should have allocated around an hour. Yikes! The likelihood is that even though you would have performed spectacularly well with the first 6 questions, you will probably fail overall. By striving for perfection, you have wasted valuable time to your detriment. And, as evident, it can wreak havoc with your time-management skills!
Striving for perfection is like wanting to physically touch the moon whilst having your feet firmly planted on our planet Earth. The comparison just highlights the ridiculousness of it. I used to be a perfectionist and let me tell you, I truly annoyed myself with this trait. Things had to be done perfectly and I would drive myself crazy spending hours going over and over stuff, making sure there wasn’t anything else that could be added to improve upon it. Even after I had finished, I would still be wondering if there was anything else I could do.
I’m extremely glad this flawed character trait is disappearing.
Does that mean that you should just settle for mediocrity and give things less than your all?
Not at all.
You should always try your best (take pride in your work!) and constantly be trying to improve yourself. Life is about personal development, after all. Just don’t waste lots of time on an activity which will yield the same results, regardless of how much time you spend on it. Indeed, I’m the first to admit that some of my blog posts are better than others, and some I am extremely proud of, yet these aren’t necessarily all the ones that I spent hours trying to perfect, attempting to come up with the perfect word, phrase, etc.
Your time is precious and each second that passes you will never be able to get back. Just do the best that you possibly can within the time allocated. Sometimes, needing an extension is inevitable, but make sure this time period is not extensive enough to make your other goals and activities suffer. Push yourself but don’t go chasing a phantom that doesn’t exist.
If you can honestly say that you have performed to your best within the time set, then you are on the right track. In the words of Vince Lombardi: