Perfection is Overrated

Why perfection is overrated when it comes to your money -- and your lifeHave you ever gotten that “Tell me about one of your weaknesses” question during an interview?

“I tend to be a perfectionist” is one of the standard answers.

That answer is meant to emphasize that you work really hard to do a good job, but the truth is, the idea of perfection is overrated.

Especially when it comes to your money.

Why perfection is overrated

Believing that you have to do things exactly right before you give something a try can leave you afraid to even get started. Or if you do get started, it can cause you to become discouraged and give up when things don’t go perfectly — meaning that you don’t actually complete anything.

Either way, you’re paralyzed. You put off your dreams — or even basic things that could help you live a better life — because you’re stuck believing perfection is important.

Guess what? It’s not. Usually, good enough is good enough. And you can always make it better later if you really want to, once it’s done.

Good enough vs. perfect

If you feel like you have to be perfect, give good enough a try. For one thing, it’s impossible to be perfect anyway.

Now you may be thinking “of course no one is perfect”, and of course you’d be right. But knowing something intellectually is different from knowing something emotionally. Sometimes our emotions feel otherwise. So if this describes you (and it certainly used to describe me), try to give yourself a break.

Good enough is progress. It’s a step in the right direction. It gets things done, and sometimes they turn out better than you might have imagined when you were all caught up in perfection. As a bonus, you don’t need to beat yourself up for not achieving the impossible. You can take pride in your accomplishments and progress instead. And then continue on from there!

Take personal finance, for example

It’s normal to not have your budget work out perfectly the first time you try to make one. Or even the sixth or twelfth time. (After all, it takes a full year to experience all of the expenses that happen over the course of a year.)

It’s normal to not have a clue about investing if you’ve never invested before. Not even Warren Buffett was born with a magical knowledge of how investing works — he studied things in great detail, learned from others who had been successful, and screwed up. (And there’s no guarantee that even following Buffett will be beneficial, because by the time you hear about it, the situation has likely changed.)

Focus on progress

So instead of being paralyzed when it comes to money (or anything in life!), take a step in the right direction. And then keep going.

Don’t give up when you aren’t perfect. Perfection is overrated. Improving your financial life isn’t.