When we work on something that we care about, knowing when to stop can be hard. You tell yourself to keep editing … You care enough to keep making those infinitesimal changes that only you can see, because you want it to be absolutely perfect before anyone else reads/hears/sees your work.
But of course nothing is ever perfect – everything can be improved … And the most frustrating thing is that you usually notice the improvements the very moment it’s too late to do something about it. And you use that as an excuse to tell yourself to work harder – to be even more careful next time.
But next time it won’t be perfect either.
If we can accept that, it firstly makes life a little easier. Accept the flaws in our work, learn to embrace them – love them, even.[This applies to ourselves as much as our work. Indeed, improving ‘us’ is probably the most important work we ever do. It’s important to embrace our flaws, but don’t let this become a subtle excuse not to work on them.]
Secondly, embracing flaws can help us use time more effectively. As a task draws nearer to completion, it takes longer and longer to make improvements. There comes a point at which you have to ask yourself whether the extra time is really adding any extra value to the finished product. We never want to be shoddy. We should never let anything out into the world that we aren’t proud of. But we need to know when to say: “Enough. I’m proud of this. Yes, maybe I could improve it by two percent, but it’s time to put this out and start the next thing.”
Of course, working on the next thing is the perfect opportunity to implement the lessons you learned from the last thing.
Study a flower – it’s the imperfections that make it beautiful.