You have been busy writing an article for weeks now. Every time you change a sentence to make it even better. Then you read another article, checking if you can use it for your text. You are questioning yourself if your text will be good enough to send to your supervisors. So you adapt another paragraph, skip another sentence…
Well, this could take you weeks. Unfortunately, you won’t make any progress. Will your text improve in the end? Not at all. You have fallen into the perfection trap. By worrying about minor improvements, you block yourself from progress.
Apparently, Voltaire said it: perfect is the enemy of good and that is exactly what is happening. So how to free yourself from perfectionism?
The M.F.D. or the Mostly Fine Decision
Perfectionism is an illusion. So how about you decide that any decision you take is fine? The Mostly Fine Decision is the minimum outcome you are willing to accept as a consequence of a decision. In other words, you decide that the decision is perfectly okay, instead of the perfect outcome.
Using M.F.D.’s or not has to do with the difference between maximizes and satisficers. Maximizers are persons who strive to make a choice that will give them the maximum benefit later on – or a satisficer, whose choices are determined by more modest criteria and nothing more and their decision making is faster.
Satisficers are happier than maximizers
The paradox is that research shows that satisficers are happier with their decisions and actions than maximizers. This means that by just taking action – taking decisions on your work, or anything else – you will be happier than by continually striving to achieve perfection.
Two ways to get going
The first way to make sure you will take action is by focusing on the process and not the end result. By doing so, you can celebrate every step forward, so you put your attention to the steps you are making and not the end result. You gain success by taking steps one by one, success doesn’t come in one hit.
The second way is to consider which step you could take instead of imposing on yourself that you need to have a complete – and perfect – plan. And then take that step. Once you have done so, you can start figuring out the next step.
Take action. As a coach of mine always said: version one is better than version none!