Kill Perfectionism

I love engineering. It has been by dream since my childhood days to be an engineer. To create something so perfect that it is almost metaphysical. I used to build bridges using twigs and leaves in my garden after the rains and watch the ants pass through them for hours.

I have no illusions about the works I create: coding, writing, presentations, some hardware with stepper motor which turns left when I press a button or the bridges which I build using twigs. Most of them just work, sometimes barely. But once in a while I would create something which would really make me proud. Not even close to perfection I agree, but decent enough to keep me going.

What bothers me is not the failure itself, but the indolence that breeds inside me due to the fear of failure. The procrastination that gets exhibited because I don’t want to create something worse than the last jewel I managed to create.

I am good at making things that work. I am good at finding the problems and fixing bugs. Maybe I should just stick to what I am good at. Maybe I should just build the foundation and let someone else build the highway.

There is a direct co-relation between my inactivity and the number of unread mails in my inbox. I just swept my inbox empty. I hope the causation follows.


6 thoughts on “Kill Perfectionism

  1. I doubt if retreating into a familiar comfortable shell will help in the longer run. Uncertainty is the rule of life. You don’t know till you do it, if you are going to surpass or fall short of your previous jewel. As Nike says, “Just Do It”

    • That is true. The only thing I wish to avoid is lethargy due to fear of failure. If I don’t think about something being perfect from the beginning, and just do it, I guess the experience gained would go a long way in creating something perfect eventually.

      • One way to go about it is to expect to fail and improve the product till it succeeds. In other words expect the first iteration to fail. This way you won’t be afraid of not meeting expectations. Of course you’ll have to manage time to get a second crack at your project. So start early, fail quickly and improve.

      • Yes. I should focus more on getting things done rather than thinking how to make them perfect. Maybe in a couple of iterations the quality would increase.

  2. Hi Sanmukh, I chanced upon your blog and realized that I feel exactly the same way. This seems to be more common among people than I thought. I have spent the last 20 years of my life fighting this tendency unsuccessfuly. The solution is simple on paper, but just like a bad habit, it takes conscious effort to get rid of these patterns. Some links are pasted below to contemplate on, if not to follow blindly (some advice might sound trite, but is very true).

    I think it is important to change our attitudes. Most of the worthwhile achievements in life are a result of sustained cumulative efforts over long periods. This message is as much to reinforce these ideas to myself as it is for you. Good luck.

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