I've come to realize today that I have an enemy. Actually, I know I've had this enemy for quite some time now, I'm just finally realizing that I have to stand up, say "fuck you" and shoot the sum'bitch down. To say my enemy has made things difficult is an understatement - he has made my work suffer, and has intimidated me into near paralysis. My performance suffers because of it. My career could very well suffer because of it. And if that happens, my family will definitely suffer, all due to my enemy who has recently revealed himself to me.
Perfection...the enemy of good enough. Now I would not call myself a perfectionist - at least not "openly" so. I'm perfectly happy to get by on many things, particularly when I'm doing them for myself. I determine what is needed and get it done well and I am satisfied.
But when I have a requirement placed on me - to deliver "up the chain" - things can get out of hand in a hurry. I look at what needs to be done, determine the specified and implied tasks, and the mental mayhem begins. Question after question mulled over, detail after detail piled on, constantly looking to add more and more.
I feel that if I leave even the tiniest hole...anything up to question - "have you thought about?" - that I have failed. That I was not up to the task to begin with. Now this has a place - in a final product, presented to a customer, or a plan that places people and equipment "on the line" you need this level of attention. But in something like a proposal, an outline, a brief position paper, this is ruinous.
And I end up there often; I'm looking way too deep, doing way too much, and after stress, hand wringing and way too much work, I pare things way down and produce something more reasonable. It's usually what should be done in the first place, but the mental byproduct of my effort is that I am thoroughly unhappy with the product and myself, even if it is in itself correct.
Alternately, I'll let the thinking and "what if"-ing drive me into an overwhelmed paralysis, squander too much time, and produce something at or near the last minute that embodies too much effort for the result. Again, almost always "on target" but the net effect of the process is to deflate my opinion of my own abilities.
It applies to my writing, too. It's part of the reason I do not post as often as I want. Mentally I am reading and re-reading as I type, becoming unhappy with it while it's coming out, then deleting and re-writing. So that a piece like this that should take 20 minutes takes 45.
So...I need to break a habit. And that habit is striving for perfection when perfection isn't called for.
Sometimes, good enough is.
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