I have a problem.
Sometimes when I set out to do something, I end up abandoning that endeavor early on. And typically, it’s for the same recurring reason.
The cause? Perfectionism.
When I set out to accomplish something, I go all out in making the “perfect” formula, or the “perfect” plan, or the “perfect” method. And I end up putting a ton of energy into the planning phases.
Essentially, there’s this need in me to completely optimize every aspect of my design.
Now this may sound good, but in reality it isn’t. When things don’t go the way I “perfectly” set up for, I have this bad habit of starting completely over.
A clear and obvious time waster.
And of course, this leads to me not meeting my “perfect” time frame. At this point I give up, with the “intention” of picking it up later… As you can guess, this has led to many procrastinations and project abandonment.
The Spectrum of Goal Accomplishment
Over time, I’ve come to realize that there was a lack of balance in my approach. Basically there are two sides to the puzzle, and they are:
You need both aspects, but plenty of people struggle with one or the other.
I’ve already demonstrated what happens when you overemphasize the planning portion; It leads to indecision and unnecessary refinement.
But failure to plan appropriately while taking action will potentially lead you down the wrong path; leaving you with fewer resources and less motivation.
So what’s the best approach then?
Ultimately its a balancing act and you need to do an appropriate amount of both. So my suggestion to you is to –
Act and Adjust
The idea is this. You don’t really need to do much planning in life, you just need to do enough to point you in the right direction. All that’s really necessary to know is the end goal and what the next 1-2 steps are.
Meticulously detailed plans are useless when you attempt to account for real life variables. There is no such thing as planning for the randomness of life; so keep things simple:
- Pick your end goal
- Figure out steps one and two
- Do step one
- Let step two guide you
That’s all you need to do to get started.
Don’t expend any more mental energy on planning and gathering info then necessary, because all the info you actually need will come in the form of experience.
After you’ve taken some action, you will naturally begin to learn about your endeavor. You will begin to get the real-deal experience behind those actions, filling up your knowledge of it.
This experience is far more useful then any extra initial research would’ve provided you. Why? Because it’s information that is backed up by your observations and familiarity.
Now instead of spending time planning in the beginning, you will use your new experiences and knowledge to adjust your approach. In this manner, you can actually make some head way with your goal without sacrificing the planning aspect.
Once again I stress the need to adjust in a minimal fashion. You do not want to fall into the trap of making dozens of unnecessary changes along the way. This is a waste of time and energy.
You just need to unleash yourself in the general direction of your goal. Using the experiences you gain from your action, adjust your approach as needed. Try to keep things as simple as possible because I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t take much to derail us from our plans.
Just Remember This
The focus of your approach should be that of simplicity and “mindlessness.” The simpler the process is, the less you must think about it. The less you must think about it, the more you can act on it. And the more you act on it, the closer you are to success.
How do you balance out your actions with planning? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!
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