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Do you keep working on a project until it is absolutely perfect, or someone else takes it off your hands? Do you do everything yourself because "no one does it right"? Or will you sometimes not even start a project because the resources aren't there to do it well, and what's the point of starting if you can't do it right? In other words, are you a perfectionist?  

Being a perfectionist has many payoffs*. There is a lot of recognition from the people outside of the process, who recognize and value your work. There is also the feeling that you have done a great job, and you know that there has been no cheating, bluffing or cutting corners. *But it also exact a cost in the stress you experience, the frustration that no one notices the small details that you spent so much time perfecting, the sheer exhaustion from the many hours worked.

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So what can you do if you are a perfectionist and want to keep your love for a job well done, but want to get rid of the downsides?

First, remember that what counts is the result, not the process, unless the process affects the results. I read the story of a man – speaker and seminar leader – who insisted on packing the books to be sent to the seminar location himself, because the labels had to be in this exact corner, perfectly aligned with the sides of the box, and no one would do it right... The problem was that almost anyone could ensure that the boxes reached their destination in time, which is all that really mattered, and he wasted precious time on a task that others could do, at the expense of his speaking business. No need to mention that he never became very successful. Do you indulge in your own equivalent of labeling the boxes yourself? If yes, clearly separate for you the result (the boxes have to arrive at the right place and at the right time) from the process (how to write the labels, where to place them, etc.) and focus on the result. It is it that needs to be perfect, not the process.  

Then, remember the 80/20 rule: 20% of your effort yields 80% of your result. Getting to 90% of your result takes you about 50% of your effort... Do you really want to double the time you've already spent on a project, to achieve a small 10% further improvement? My perfectionist clients all put close to their workspace a prominent sign saying "80/20" or "remember 80/20" and stop on a regular basis to assess if they are working toward their 80% of perfect result, or if they are in the other 20%, and if what they are doing is truly worth the extra effort or not.  

If you apply those two ideas consistently, you will find how easy it is to stop the maddening, stress-inducing aspects of your perfectionism, without compromising on the high quality you want in everything you do.  

Yours in Daily Mastery,
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