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Done is Better than Perfect

mindset perfectionism Nov 26, 2022
Stethoscope and Chart by Darko Stojanovic of Pixabay

There are many adages that apply here:

Done is better than perfect

“Perfect is the enemy of good” -Voltaire

The basic idea, which I have highlighted in other posts this month, is that perfectionism keeps us stuck. When we worry about getting every detail just so, we never finish, never end, never submit.

In healthcare, especially for those of us who carry malpractice, who might be considered personally liable for incorrect, incomplete or incompetent actions, this can be crippling. But what’s important to step back and consider is that yes, there are some decisions, some procedures, some actions that require excellent, accurate and precise execution. But that doesn’t mean that every decision or action requires this level of attention and care.

I was certainly a victim of this mindset for much of my medical career, and I see it so often in the Physicians that I coach. It’s a blanket approach of “if perfectionism is important here, it must be important elsewhere."

My question to you, is "is it true?"

Is it true that a perfect clinic note is necessary to close your charts? Or is there a good enough? What if your child forgets to mention that they need to bring snacks to school. Does it need to be a creative, clever, homemade treat? Or can we pick up snacks from Target? How about those FMLA forms? Complete sentences, paragraphs? Or just the necessary info, scribble your signature and off it goes?

It’s really easy to get stuck and slowed down, trying to get things just so. And when you have the habit of perfectionism, it can pop up in many areas of your life (admin tasks at work, like replying to every email or charting, having a beautiful, curated and immaculate home, and kids who love vegetables and reading more than oreos and video games).

I’m not saying that we should just stop trying. It isn’t an all-or-nothing phenomenon, that either we perform perfectly or not at all. But in different areas of our life, there are different levels of what is sufficient to be done and more forward.

Do we need to check all the ratings and reviews for all of the local house-cleaning services to make a decision, or can we ask for recommendations and make a decision? If my notes contain the necessary information required for the level of service, can I sign it now, rather than leave it to later, correcting misspelled words, adding punctuation and writing paragraphs instead of bullet points?

To get started, make a list of all the areas in your life where you currently feel that you need to do an amazing job. You may not feel that you would label it “perfect,” but an area where you have felt it’s challenging and important to do well. At first, you will likely end up with a long list.

Take a step back and look at the list. Given the time you have, the resources that you have, everything that currently is a part of your life, does it make sense to keep everything on the list? Many of us, on first pass, will have written down many little things, where perfect vs “good enough” isn’t much different and likely isn’t truly important. Do you want perfect notes and the cleanest house on the street? Or do you want good enough notes, effective relationships with your patients and more time with your kids, even if the house is messy?

This is an opportunity to look at where your current thoughts are with respect to what you feel like you should be doing, and what you want to value and prioritize in your life. Because what we spend our time doing is what we are prioritizing. And many of us have found ourselves living lives that are not in alignment with what we truly want. Spending time cleaning/perfecting/worrying, rather than living/good-enoughing/laughing/loving.

What will you prioritize? And what will you choose to make “good enough?”

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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