There is a saying, “Perfection is the enemy of done.” And it’s real. It’s not just a phrase.

I see this all the time. So have others. Even Forbes has noticed. (And they’re kind of a big deal, don’t you think?)

Perfection vs. progress

A lot of virtual professionals, and especially virtual assistants, are self-proclaimed perfectionists. They want the decisions they make and the businesses they are creating to be of the highest caliber. Their focus is on producing high-quality outputs for their clients. They don’t want to spare or skimp on the details.

And because they are thoughtful and intentional, they don’t want to have unanswered questions. These are all amazing elements of the perfectionist’s personality.

On the other side of that high-quality, attention-to-detail, must-have-all-the-answers thinking is the perfectionist who doesn’t really get anything done OR who sets their expectations so high, they always feel they’ve fallen short.

Some people will say that the “Perfection is the opposite of done,” idea is just an excuse – a reframe – for people to do shoddy work, to produce an inferior product, or provide inferior service. That’s not what I’m seeing in real-time. Not at all. Not even a little. I see incredibly gifted, talented, skilled, people struggling to share their gifts, talents, and skills with the world because they are more attached to the idea of perfectionism than progress.

If you make no progress, you’re at a standstill. You can see how this would be detrimental to you and your business.

One of the most significant drains on your productivity is worrying about being perfect. Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes.

Want to be successful in your business? You have to let go of perfectionism.

Three tips to help you let go of perfectionism

  1. If you’re working on a project, give yourself enough time to go back to fix errors, think things through a little more, and make any adjustments you need to make.
  2. Set small goals. Develop a plan that makes room for paying attention to all the details.
  3. Don’t get stuck in the hamster wheel of perfectionism going around and around and not really getting anywhere.

Progress, not perfection. Done, not unfinished. Deadline met, not missed.

Think about it. Do you fall into the perfectionism trap? What’s it costing you?


Kathy Goughenour is virtual professional trainer and founder of Goughenour Group LLC at virtualexperttraining.com.

Kathy Goughenour is virtual professional trainer and founder of Goughenour Group LLC.  This post was adapted from an article originally published on virtualexperttraining.com.