“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” ~ Robert H. Schuller
You and I, we wait all the time.
You wait on people; trains; planes; answers. You wait to go someplace; to leave a place.
You wait on dynamics to change in certain relationships.
You wait in line. Heck, you wait online when the internet is slow.
The truth is that there probably isn’t a day in your life where you aren’t waiting for someone or something – when you aren’t waiting on time or for more time.
A pretty frustrating “fact of life” for a culture with an ever-growing propensity toward impatience and instant everything and anything.
But here’s where the irony of human nature kicks in: How you feel about waiting and how you relate to the experience of it largely depends on what side of the coin you happen to sit.
Are you on the “receiving” end of waiting, or are you the reason for the wait – aka the pause or delay?
Let’s spend a few weeks chatting about the latter because it is deeply connected to the intersection of time, waiting and the notion of perfection. And your relationship with these components of project management contain nuggets of wisdom you’d be wise not to dismiss.
Don’t believe me? Just look at your to-do list. Any project on it is chock full of insight regarding your relationship with time, waiting and perfection.
What’s one project on your to-do list you’re currently waiting to start, continue or complete?
Is it personal or professional?
For me, it’s personal: it’s my closet. It is a hot mess.
I live in a beautiful one-bedroom apartment. But it only has one (!) closet. (That’s NYC living for you.)
You might expect me to be envious of the closet space of friends who live in larger spaces than me. I am! However, I am even more envious, awe-struck actually, when I visit friends who live is smaller one-bedrooms or studio apartments and seem to work magic with the closet space they have.
I want what I see when I look in their closets. I want mine to be organized and clutter-free. I want mine to only contain things I LOVE or need. I want to feel a sense of joy and accomplishment when I go into my closet, instead of feeling like “ugh, I have to deal with this.”
And yet…I have come up with every excuse to postpone purging and organizing. I’ve blamed “not having enough time.” I’ve said I need a friend or professional organizer to help me. (I know part of my problem is that I have a hard time letting go of some stuff. Blame my emotional attachment to some of my things – things that I bought; things that were gifts; things that I have from my deceased mother.)
Yeah, I may be talking about my closet. But you could easily substitute your project – the one you were excited about at the beginning, but because of the passage of time, obstacles and challenges your enthusiasm has now waned and it is on pause.
When you consider your own project, you’ll soon see that my reasons for not making progress with and completing my closet purge and organization aren’t unlike yours. Especially when it comes to unfinished projects that are important to you, but don’t have a hard deadline.
Sometimes you and I get stuck and don’t move forward in anticipation of one day soon having more time, money, resources or even experience. But in the end, it all really boils down to waiting…for the perfect time.
I think it’s helpful to view the intersection of time, waiting and the notion of perfection as a venn diagram. That space where they overlap represents the hidden cost of your unfinished projects (we’ll talk more about that later in this series). And it puts a bright spotlight on why waiting for the perfect time is a poor excuse for a lack of progress.
To begin with, there rarely is a “perfect time” to get started or to reboot. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. That’s plenty of time to do something, especially if you let go of the all-or-nothing mentality.
Second, waiting for the perfect time as in for the conditions or circumstances to be just right is pretty futile. Saying, “I’ll do X, when Y happens,” is mostly justification for inaction. Because it usually only serves to delay the end-result you most want, which is quite sobering when you embrace the fact that time moves on whether you take action or not.
Lastly, the tendency to wait on the perfect time is as if it is something that just magically happens. You have enough life experience to know this is untrue. If anything you make the time perfect by simply doing one thing: taking action.
Time is indeed precious and absolutely should be respected in my opinion. But waiting for the perfect time is nothing more than a distraction.
Now, back to my question: What’s that one project you keep waiting for the perfect time to tackle? After reading this, what’s one thing you’re going to do next?
p.s. Oh and by the way, you might want to join us on September 25th. Click here.