There are no perfect human beings on the planet, and you're not going to be the first. Now, if you suffer from perfectionism, if you think that that's holding you back, well, you're going to really enjoy today's message because I'm going to teach you seven things that you can be doing to overcome that perfectionism. So that you can finally break free of not feeling good enough and make the progress that you're seeking in both your business and life.
Hi, my name is Eric Partaker and I help entrepreneurs, leaders and individuals achieve their full potential in whatever it is that they're doing. And not just on the work front, but also on the health and the home front, or even the relationship fronts. So let's dive into it. Seven things that can help you break free from that perfectionism that's holding you back.
But to start with, I just want to tell you that this was the number one thing that I identified that was holding me back for years. I was constantly not making enough progress as I would like, or I was making progress, but it was way too painful. I was having to put in way too many hours. And ultimately, it just made me feel not good, not good about myself, not good about my results or my ability to get to wherever I was going at the time.
So, number one thing that you can do to break free from the shackles of perfection is to genuinely understand the 80/20 principle, or I like to think of it as good enough. So a lot of times when we're working, we are trying to produce something at 100% effort. And I guarantee you, if you really break down whatever it is that you're doing in your business or life, the things that are important to you, you could probably, if you spend some time to think about it, you could identify what are the 20% of things that I could be doing within this area that would generate at least 80% of the benefit. Rather than what's the 100% of things that I could be doing to generate 100% of the benefit. And a simple thing that I did to really track this was that in my journal on a daily basis, one of the things that I 80/20'd, if you will today, what are the things that I produced with the minimal amount of effort, but still got a great result?
It could have been an email or a report that I was writing that normally would have taken me say 90 minutes. And I might've noticed that, "Oh, I got that done in 17 minutes." Or it could have been a speech that I was preparing. And once again, I thought that I would need three days to do it. And I noticed that I did it in just half of a day. So I was constantly taking note of the 80/20 opportunities, or the things that I did in my life on a daily basis, and just noting those in my journal.
Number two, I call this the 96% solution. So if you work on first creating the 80% solution, so what's the 20% of effort that leads to 80% of the result, then I encourage you to think who could I delegate this to such that they could produce an 80% improvement on that? And I call it 96% solution because if I'm doing 20% to yield the 80%, and then if someone else is now going to work on that bit and take it 80% further, than together that's 96% of the way there. And for most things, that's going to be good enough. We don't need to work on that remaining 4%.
So who could you delegate to so that they could close the gap a little bit further and do their 80% of what remains on whatever that project or piece of work is? So it could have been an article that you draft very, very quickly, and then you send it to someone to tidy up. It could be a video that you're filming. It could be a report or something that you're writing. So who could you delegate it to for that next 80% result?
Number three, I really liked this question, which is how would you improve upon this? I love asking this question of people that I work with. I encourage leaders and managers and people just to ask their peers to show your work to someone and ask how would you improve upon this? These are the key words in that question. You're demonstrating your vulnerability to them. You're demonstrating that you're open for feedback, but most importantly to yourself, you're demonstrating that it's not good enough yet. It could probably be better, but you're opening yourself up to the feedback from others, right? So rather than sitting there on your own constantly wondering, "How do I improve this?" Open it up, ask others, and they will give you their feedback and help you close whatever gaps remain.
Number four is another question, once again. Whenever I feel like I'm slowing down on a project, or this is taking a little bit too long, I ask myself, "How could I make this easy?" Or I might flip it around and say, "How am I making this too hard?" That's a very, very powerful question. So once again, if you're sitting there, you're stuck on something, you're not progressing as quickly as you would like ask that question, "How can I make this easy?" And you might even tie some of these things together, right? You might think, well, what's the 20% that would generate 80% of the result? Or is this good enough already such that I could pass it onto someone else and ask them to work on that next 80%? Or is it good enough already and could I just ask someone else how they might improve this? But I asked myself, number four, "How could I make this easy?" Or I flip it around and I might say, "How am I making this too hard?"
Number five is to bear in mind Parkinson's Law. This is incredibly powerful and important, especially for the perfectionist. Parkinson's Law simply states that work will expand to fill the time given for its completion. So meaning if you give yourself a month to complete a piece of work, well, it's going to take a month. If you give yourself a week, it's going to take a week. And we've all experienced this, right? We've all been in these situations where suddenly, maybe we left something too late. I mean, how often does that happen? It happens to all of us, right? You leave something too late and you think, "Oh my gosh, I'm not going to get this done. I only have three hours." And maybe you thought that you needed three days. What happens? You get it done in three hours, somehow, because of Parkinson's Law. Work will expand to fill the time given for its completion.
So how do you use this to your advantage as a perfectionist, or how do you use this to advantage to overcome the shackles of perfectionism? Well, recognize this law and start time-bounding the things that you're working on. So if you're working on a report or finishing your presentation or trying to do some research, make sure that you give it some boundaries, right? Give yourself an hour to get it done rather than three hours. Force yourself to get it done in 30 minutes, rather than a full hour.
Number six is a mindset thing, and it's all about embracing progress, not perfection. We're just continually trying to make progress. We're continually going up. We're taking in an optimalist view to life, rather than a perfectionist view, right? Once again, there are no perfect human beings in the planet. You won't be the first. I won't be the first. No one ever will. But we can constantly be improving. We can become an optimalist in life, rather than a perfectionist. Where can I improve? How can I make this slightly better?
Last but not least, to overcome perfectionism, you need to focus on just ship it. Get it out the door, whatever it is that you're trying to work on. Get that ugly first draft out the door, get that 80% solution out the door, get it out there in the world. Because once it's out there in the world, that's how things become better. Then you start to receive feedback. Then you can look at your own work. Then you can tap into other people's ideas. But don't sit on things. Good enough, 80% of the way there, ship it, get it out there and start to benefit from the thoughts and the wisdom of others. And also start to move on to that next thing, whatever it may be.
So a quick wrap-up today on how to overcome the shackles of perfectionism. Number one, develop that 80/20 mindset. What's the 20% of things I can do for 80% of the results. How is it good enough? Number two, who can I delegate that 20% that I didn't do and ask them to do an 80/20 on that piece, such that their work and my work becomes a 96% solution? And something that is 96% good, that's going to be good enough. Trust me, even that first 80% might've been good enough. Number three, develop the habit of asking people, "Well, how would you improve upon this," so that you open yourself up to constructive feedback. So that you don't need to be a perfectionist and that others recognize in you that, "Ah, he's not a perfectionist." Or "She's not a perfectionist. She's actually asking for some feedback, she recognizes that it can be better."
Number four, when you sat there stalling, and you're not sure of what to do or why it's taking too long, ask yourself, "How can I make this easy?" Or on the flip side of that, "How am I making this too difficult?"
And then number five, six and seven, remember Parkinson's Law. Work will expand to fill the time given for its completion, bind your task by a certain amount of time. Number six, embrace progress, not perfection. And number seven, ship things. It's through shipping things that things improve, not by sitting on them.