Study a flower – it’s the imperfections that make it beautiful.
When we work on something that we care about, knowing when to stop can be hard. We tell ourselves to keep editing … to keep making those infinitesimal changes that only we can see, because we care – we want it to be absolutely perfect before anyone else reads/hears/sees our work.
But of course nothing is ever perfect – everything can be improved … And the most frustrating thing is that we usually notice the improvements the very moment it’s too late to do something about it. And then we use that as an excuse 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 – maybe even learn to love them.
[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, although we mustn’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’s a line of diminishing returns. We never want to be shoddy, of course. We should never let anything out into the world that we aren’t proud of. But we also need to know when to say: “Enough. I’m proud of this. Yes, maybe I could improve it by one or two percent, but it’s time to put this out and start the next thing.”
And working on the next thing is the perfect opportunity to implement the lessons we learned from the last thing.