How often do we wait until everything is just so – we’ve learned all that can be learned… we’ve got every last detail sorted out, nailed down, set in stone… we’ve planned, in excruciating detail, precisely how we’ll get from A to B to C… before we allow ourselves to actually get started?
You know, when perfect is the enemy of good?
I struggle with this at times, most often when it involves trying something new to me. But why this need for extreme control, this “perfection or nothing” mindset? Is it a fear of failure, perhaps, or maybe comparisons to others more skilled than I, that so often paralyzes me into inaction?
My inclination in these situations is to buy (but not necessarily read) volumes of reference books, research and bookmark all available online resources, sign up for some classes, become an expert on the minutiae of the subject at hand, draft schedules and set up indexed binders, before ever getting started. And in many cases, as you might imagine, the “getting started” phase of the project doesn’t actually happen.
Learning becomes more important than actually doing.
Regardless of the whys and wherefores, however, making the decision to move ahead, even if we’re not exactly sure where we’re going and therefore can’t possibly guarantee success, is empowering.
I experienced this in a small way today.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my desire to grow an herb garden. Though it seems like a fairly simple undertaking, I’ve been surprisingly reticent to make the move to get going on this project, for many of the reasons outlined above.
Today we were at the hardware store to pick up my husband’s birthday present from me, a wheelbarrow (who says romance is dead?!), and my husband not-so-subtly suggested that I take a look at the garden centre, specifically the herbs. My inner fears and lame excuses started to surface: But I don’t yet know all there is to know about growing an herb garden! I have no idea what region we’re in, what works in this part of the country, how often to water, what kind of soil to use! I still have too many questions!
But then a quiet thought pushed all those irrational fears away with a gentle, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and I started to laugh at myself. I mean, really! So I spend a few bucks and nothing grows. So what? So I find that the yard doesn’t get enough sun for herbs. So what? So I discover that both of my thumbs are brown. So what?
Yeah. So what?
So I’m doing it. I’m starting small… but I’m starting. I bought a “Simple Garden” (a kit with all the supplies for growing sweet basil, parsley, and oregano), some chive seeds, a terracotta pot and base, and some potting soil. I can’t predict the outcome of this little venture, but it doesn’t actually matter. What does matter is that I followed the right instinct instead of giving in to the never-satisfied desire for perfection.
I will remember this little lesson when other, bigger, more significant steps need to be taken (and there are many).
Where do you allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good?