In everything we do, we strive to make the “right” choice at minimum, and the “perfect” choice where possible.
Whether it’s choosing a passion, business idea or niche, significant other, or even something as trivial as what to watch next on Netflix, we feel the pressure to choose well.
This tends to steal our joy in the shorter and longer term.
In the short term, we end up focusing on all the other choices we could have made. And we tend go back on our choices relatively quickly.
In the long term, we go back to the moment of decision, wondering what it would have been like to choose a different path, assuming that another path would have been better by comparison.
Where there is the incessant pressure to make the perfect decision, expect unhappiness.
Why? Because you’re expecting perfection. So, you’re not willing to accept anything other than what you would consider perfect – from yourself and from others. As result, you will feel like a failure every time you fail to make a perfect decision.
People who commit to the choices they make are happier because they don’t constantly second guess themselves. They understand that life won’t be “perfect” under any circumstances. They can see that the abundance of options isn’t going to make one iota of difference to their happiness.
And don’t forget, perfect is only an opinion, and everyone has their own.
Many creatives feel as though they can’t put anything less than perfection out in the world.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when you consider how social media actively encourages this behavior. It constantly has us comparing our lives to those of others and their perfectly manicured profiles. And we make a lot of assumptions about how good they must have it. Much of this can happen at a subconscious level without us even noticing.
It would be wise to consider just how self-involved and insecure we’ve become. Because that makes us the perfect consumers. And we end up concluding that we can buy our way to happiness, or at the very least, momentary relief.
“If I just buy X, I will look better, feel better, be better…”
Creatives and creators often say that they want their work to mean something. That they do what they do because of those it has the potential to impact.
Consider how brave that is. Because in essence it’s saying, “I will show up for my audience and fulfill on my purpose and promises, even if I am not at my best. Even if it makes me look bad.”
The question is whether reality is matching expectation.
If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, it will never be.
And if you find yourself polishing your projects endlessly, then consider exactly how long that has gone on for.
“Done” and “perfect” are separate.
Experts often say, “you can’t change what’s already out in the world.”
To a degree, this is true. Whatever you’ve posted online will be stored in the cloud in virtual perpetuity.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t re-record your first album 10 years later. It doesn’t mean you can’t add another brush stroke to your painting. It doesn’t mean you can’t update your course after you’ve received some feedback from your audience.
It’s hard to appreciate the value of a minimum viable product (or minimum viable project) until you’ve published and tested it for yourself. My second book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship was in fact a minimum viable product upon its release, and it continues to do well.
In the last few years, I have been embracing minimum viable, more than ever. And I find I get to 80% completion much faster. It helped me see that the remaining 20% is just makeup. And that makeup might make me feel better about the product, but may not make any difference to the people who’ve been waiting to consume it, engage with it, buy it or otherwise.
I have been embracing imperfection in my blogging efforts. I publish daily. This doesn’t mean I give myself permission to slouch on creating great content and editing. But I am aware that my some of my pieces could be another five to 10% better if I gave them more attention.
I see it as a question of whether I want to test many ideas to see which resonate or bet on a few that seem like amazing ideas.
Generally, what has worked for me is the former. Focusing on many ideas, and then whittling them down to a smaller subset of ideas that outperform the others.
I don’t take it for granted that I am a genius. I don’t think I am. If I am, it’s only because I continue to apply myself day in and day out.
Which is why I don’t bet on a few seemingly amazing ideas. I don’t think I’m here to invent the next Facebook.
Here’s another way to think about it:
Would there be more pain in publishing more, knowing it’s imperfect, but finding resonance sooner…
Or would there be more pain in only publishing what you deemed “perfect” and found no resonance whatsoever until much later?
For me, at least, there would be more pain in the latter.
I don’t publish daily thinking all my content will be consumed, engaged, or even appreciated. But I do it because I have it as my mission to inspire creatives and creators. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the baseline requirement to be at the table.
You can publish perfectly, or you can publish. Oftentimes, they are distinct from each other.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.