Get it done this year

“Done is better than perfect.”

It’s about as clichéd as a maxim can get. Worthy enough to sit next to the likes of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land upon the stars”, and “Live every day like it’s your last”.

Ugh.

And although the thought of using these clichés is enough to make me almost puke over my facepalm, I do adore the intention behind every one of them.

Behind every classic quote lies an undeniable common truth. Behind every touristy photograph lies an undeniable common appeal. These universal things and their use and application to your life is what is valuable, regardless of the repetitive packaging they’re delivered in.

My mantra, my theme, for living life this year is “Freedom through creativity”.

All my goals hang from that theme, and all my goals are hung up on the wall for me to remember, every day.

One of the more tactical aspects of realising that mantra revolves around the idea of more output.

Last year in 2018, my output was terrible in quality and quantity. In my own retrospective for the year, I uncovered why, and there are a multitude of reasons — but they don’t really matter. What matters is that the sheer number of outputs last year was significantly worse than the previous, and thus the amount of learnings and overall quality was reduced.

(Now, before you say that I’m being too hard on myself or whatever, know that this is the way I operate — I’m not kind to myself very often, although I know when to celebrate. I like it that way. It forces me to be uncomfortable and constantly evolve, all the time.)

There’s a common belief that a lesser amount of quantity may lead to a higher degree of quality. As in, spend as much time working on something to the nth degree, and it’ll be of a higher quality than the next thing you make. More time equals more quality. It sounds logical, right?

It might be. But for creativity, this is counter-intuitive to how it actually works.

There is tremendous power in iteration. In reflection. In momentum. It’s this repetitive learning and constant improvement that makes you a better photographer, writer, artist, friend, partner, whatever. It’s these repeatable learnings vs chasing and tweaking your way to perfection that will give you most bang for your buck when it comes to mastering your craft.

To hit my goals this year, I need to be relentless in the pursuit of output, because the output is going to lead to cyclic iteration, reflection and momentum, exponentially compounding on itself all year long.

For the longest time, I’ve lived my life with the 80/20 rule. The idea that for most things (creativity included), there are actions you can take which will consume 20% of your time, for 80% of the benefit. Once you pass that, you’ll spend 80% of your time working on the remaining 20% of the benefit — in other words, diminishing returns. Something that I definitely can’t afford to waste any time on.

To really improve yourself this year, think about 70% being defined as good, 80% being great, 90% being fantastic, 100% being perfect. Then, aim for great work, be done with it, learn everything you can from that process, move on, and start again.

Because the benefit of great continual learning is far better than fantastic occasional learning.

Because the truth to the maxim is undeniable.

Because done is better than perfect.