Be a GEM to overcome the curse of perfectionism

Perfectionism is often the biggest excuse for procrastination


I’ve done several things recently that go against my natural tendencies. On trash day, I rolled two partially filled trash containers up to the street for pick up.  It would have been much more efficient to put all the trash in one container. 

Another evening, I ran a less-than-half-full dishwasher. I could have conserved water by waiting another day or two until I could run a full load.

Another day, I ran a load of laundry that only contained six white t-shirts. I could have waited another week and had a full load.

It seems that I am not making the most of every opportunity.  Full loads are much more efficient uses of time and space.  When I see empty spaces, I wonder what else I could put there.

Did I act too soon?  Could it have been better if I waited longer?  Would I have been better prepared?

As you can see, I’m being ridiculous in my examples.  But, do you ever hesitate to do something because you want it to be perfect? 

I do all the time!

Here’s a great perspective: every action has a cost and a benefit. We probably get that.  When faced with a possible action, I am pretty quick to determine what it is going to cost me in terms of time and effort.  And I’m also pretty quick to determine if I can do it really well right now.

Here’s a perspective that we often miss: every inaction also has a cost and benefit. If I don’t do it now, what is it going to cost me later?  Am I going to spend half a day doing laundry?  Am I going to make two trips to the street because the containers are too heavy to roll together?  Am I going to spend thirty minutes on dishes instead of five?

Am I going to have to apologize to someone for giving them no answer at all instead of the best partial answer I could give at the moment?

In my work with church leaders, I have often heard that we should eliminate “good enough” from our vocabularies.  We should never be satisfied with “good enough.”  We should always be striving for “excellent.”

The problem is that we often confuse “excellent” with “perfect” and we, therefore hesitate to deliver anything because we see the shortcomings.  Perfectionism is often the biggest excuse for procrastination.


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Here’s a little GEM to help us take action.  What is possible if we deliver Good Enough for the Moment? Here’s what I can do right now.  Here’s a starting point.  Here’s a baseline.  We have a long way to go, but here’s a first step in the right direction. 

Life is not nearly as much about accomplishments as it is about progress.  Good Enough for the Moment is not complacency.  It’s a springboard toward excellence.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Your lifelong journey matters to God.  Take a step in the right direction today.  Be someone’s GEM.

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