For the past couple years, I’ve been putting off creating a comfortable space in our backyard to be able to sit, enjoy, and relax. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’ve been putting it off because I wanted to do it “right.” I wanted to rebuild the deck with composite decking (protecting it from weathering), add a built-in pergola, redo some of the electrical outlets, and even redo the entire deck layout so that we could add an entrance to the basement. I wanted to do it all at once, and I wanted it to be perfect.
Time and time again, I’ve found that striving for perfection can often hold us back from making meaningful progress in our lives, both personally and professionally.
This concept of progress over perfection is especially relevant in software development. As developers, we often fall into the trap of wanting to create the perfect solution or write the perfect code. We can become paralyzed by our pursuit of perfection, which prevents us from moving forward with our projects. This can lead to missed deadlines, unhappy stakeholders, and ultimately, a negative impact on our overall satisfaction.
What I’ve found is that it’s more important to focus on making consistent, incremental improvements. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, we can achieve progress at a steady pace. This approach allows us to test and iterate on our ideas, learning and adapting as we go. We become more flexible and can respond to changes more effectively.
In the case of my backyard project, I decided to start small. I began by setting up a seating area and purchasing some affordable patio furniture — an umbrella, table, and a few matching chairs. This simple act allowed my family to enjoy the space immediately, and it also gave me the motivation to continue making improvements. Over time, I can gradually tackle the more complex aspects of the project, such as the deck and pergola, without feeling overwhelmed by the need for perfection. Find the mininumm viable happiness you need to get started, and then build on that.
Applying this mindset to software development, we can release new features and improvements incrementally, gathering feedback from users, and continuously refining our products. This process fosters innovation and allows us to adapt more easily to change.
The next time you find yourself chasing perfection, remember that it’s often better to focus on making steady progress. Embrace the idea that small, incremental steps can lead to large, innovative changes over time. In the end, you’ll find that this approach not only improves your productivity but also leads to greater satisfaction in your work and personal life.