Overcoming Perfection & Making Progress

“You're not in the perfect business. Stop pretending that's what the world wants from you.” – Seth Godin1

Overcoming Perfection & Making ProgressThink of the moments just before you leave for a big trip: You’ve spent the last few weeks preparing and everything seems set. Then, just seconds before you start your journey, you feel a twinge of doubt in your mind. A single thought creeps in to your head:

“Did I forget something?”

In that scenario, most people will push the doubt out of their mind and move forward with their trip. After all: Nobody’s perfect. However, many people hold themselves to an unreachable standard of perfection when it comes time to advance their education or career. While that may seem like a positive mindset, it can be just the opposite: A big problem.

The Problem with Perfection

People often speak of “perfection” as a goal, which seems admirable. But can perfection actually be a hindrance? Yes, when it comes to making progress in the personal and professional spheres; perfection is all-too-frequently used as an excuse to be complacent.

Think back to the example above. If you were forced to halt every trip any time things didn’t feel absolutely perfect before leaving, you’d likely never travel at all. But that sort of thinking can creep in to the mind when it’s time to move forward with going back to school or starting a new career path.

This “perfect” thinking can seriously impede progress, leading to missed chances and regret. It’s important to accept the fact that the perfect feeling may never come; instead, it’s best to take that leap and start on the path to success.

How to Leave Perfection Behind

There’s no magic secret when it comes to getting past this type of negative thinking. Instead, here are several tips to help you get past the “waiting for perfection” phase if you’re considering going back to school:

  • Make the first step: Like most things in life, it can feel daunting to get started. But once you have, it will get easier from there on out. Every new degree, for example, starts with choosing a program and completing an application.
  • Take it one day at a time: Rather than worrying about making everything absolutely perfect before starting your new journey, take a deliberate approach. Focus on what you need to get done on the first day, then take on the second day. Before you know it, you’ll be making serious progress.
  • Ask for advice: No matter your age, you aren’t the first person to go back to school; in fact, you’re likely not the first person you know to do so. Use this to your advantage: Seek out others in your life who have made the decision to go back to school. Chances are, they’ll let you know that everything wasn’t perfect when they started, either.
  • Feel confident: You’re doing this! Going back to school can be a real game-changer when it comes to your personal and professional lives. Once you’ve moved past perfection and started the process, you should feel proud.
  • Keep your eye on the prize: Going back to school and obtaining a new degree is a challenge, no doubt about that. But it’s a surmountable one: Any time you feel discouraged, think about your long term goals and the positive feelings that await you at the end of the road.

Ultimately, leaving perfection behind requires you to embrace your own personal imperfections rather than allowing imperfection to hold you back.

Embracing Imperfection

“Truly perfect is becoming friendly with your imperfections on the way to doing something remarkable.”- Seth Godin2

The perfect situation for going back to school may never come. Because of that, it’s important to understand the imperfections in your situation and move forward regardless.

Think about it this way: No amazing idea, product or invention has arrived fully formed and perfect. Instead, they came with a series of mistakes that became revisions that became success stories. So: How does your success story start?

Considering going back to school? There’s no better time than the present. You may even be able to earn college credits for past experience.

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