DEV Community

Michael Learns
Michael Learns

Posted on

Aim for Perfection, Don't Expect a Bullseye

I’m a planned out sort of guy. I love it when things are perfect. My stuff are organised like a library. All my stuff is strategically placed. Even the files in my laptop. I hate clutter and chaos.

In all my projects I want it to be the very best. I feel like if I'm giving it my all, if I’m not giving enough, and if it’s not the best then never mind. When it came to group projects, when my group mates can’t follow what I said to the T then in the next time around I’d rather do it myself. I became this person who would rather do things on his own and make it exactly as he had in mind rather than to work with people that would have a higher risk of making the idea imperfect. It became lonely. I was incredibly stressed. I aimed for my expectations only to fail at it time and time again.

I started reevaluating my point of view on perfectionism. I took a closer look at how this world works around perfectionism. Then it hit me. NOTHING IS PERFECT.

So I had to change my mind. I still wanted things to be the best they could be. I wanted my projects to be done in excellence. I wanted myself to be excellent. But how?

Four things I learned:

  1. Strive for perfection, but don’t expect the results to be perfect.
  2. Things will never be perfect, live with it.
  3. Imperfection makes you grow.
  4. Aiming for perfection forces you to be even better than before.

So aim for perfection, but don’t expect to hit that bullseye.

What are your thoughts on perfection?

Discussion (3)

_morgan_adams_ profile image

I've taken the approach of just leaving things better than I found them.

Perfectionism puts me in "analysis paralysis" so much that I struggle to get things done or have clear milestones for delivery.

After running a team for a while, I saw others struggling to deliver because they either weren't convinced the solution was perfect or they wanted to make sure everything was flawless.

I can't remember who it was (maybe @aspittel ), but they mentioned that they see people who want to build their personal site, but never launch it because they spend so much time trying to make things perfect. Then someone new comes along and throws up a Wordpress site in an hour. Using a Wordpress site, doesn't necessarily showcase what you're capable of, but it was something! And now they can iterate and progressively make it better or move to something they've built on their own to strut their stuff.

After sharing that with my team, we began watching out for each other and would focus on delivering small iterations (small optimization here, a unit test there, etc).


tl;dr Leave it better than you found it. Do one small piece at a time.

edvinasnet profile image
Edvinas Cernauskas

I have bad experience with perfection too. Im working with one big startup. We decided to make first MVP and start project ASAP. But.. After my perfection we stuck in first step of developing.. And now we have 6 month delay, investors are angry and ect ect..

So, I fully agree with you, that need to strive for perfection but need same limits when you decide that its not a perfect, but its done and could be used.
Keep going.

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

Perfection is something I think a lot of people struggle with. It can be especially hard in our world where there is never really one "right" answer. There is always multiple ways to do things so, in some sense, perfection is never really attainable.

Wrapping my head around that when I started was hard. One of my goals early on was to open a PR that required no feedback. To me, that meant perfection. As I became more experienced, I realized that a PR that doesn't need feedback is not necessarily perfection. It probably just means it was a really simple PR 😉. I think all of my best work involved others in some way, shape, or form.

I ride horses competitively in my free time and one of the things my trainer likes to say before I go into the ring to compete is

Do your best and forget the rest!

I think that saying can ring true in any aspect of life, including coding.