I adjusted my 100%

October 23, 2021

I remember being told as a child that, if I gave something my all, then that’s all that mattered.

Giving my 100% was the gold standard, and I usually tried to overachieve, so most of time, I’d give things my 110%. And I was damn proud of it.

Oh how the times have changed.

I now think that was pretty bad advice.

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Pareto Principe- it’s about how 80 percent of our output comes from 20 percent of our input. So when we think about giving things our 100%, we really have to think about the extra benefits this may bring. Is it worth it? I mean, we can push ourselves to no end, but does the benefit really outweigh the cost?

I have to overcome perfectionism on a daily basis. As dentists, we want our work to look incredible, and especially with more dentists showing off their work on social media, we feel pressure to ensure our fillings have perfect morphology and that we can capture a perfect photo of it. The balance of science, healthcare and art becomes difficult to define. The thing is though, whilst we could push ourselves to no end, there’s usually very little benefit to the patient. For the majority of patients, they don’t even notice their back teeth to understand the morphology.

There’s also YouTube. I may spend 10 hours editing a YouTube video, but the audio has a flaw. I play around with it for a while, and I could carry on until it’s perfect, but the majority of people who watch my videos probably wouldn’t even notice, and even if they did, it may not affect whether they watched it or not.

So in theory 100% is great, but what exactly does it provide?

I’ve noticed that whenever I chase for 100%, it usually has nothing to do with what I give to others, it’s more to do with what I gain- gratification and a boost to my ego. It just gives me the ability to say I gave something my 100%.

I’ve learnt that very little in life actually requires my 100%. Obviously there are some exceptions, but usually, if I’m going to give something my all nowadays, it’s more from a personal perspective- like spending time on the perfect gift for someone I love, and even then I wonder if that level of perfect is for me or the recipient.

On the whole though, I no longer strive for 100%. I don’t even strive for 80%. I strive for 70% because I know there will always be that part of me that will want to overachieve so I’ll probably hit 80%+ anyway.

70% is my new level of perfect, and it’s perfect for me.

It helps me overcome feelings of inadequacy, stress, burnout and procrastination. It helps to remind me that there’s more to life than what I do. It reinforces the fact that I’m a living, breathing human with room for error, perfectly imperfect and content with my capabilities, even when I’m not very capable. My lack of 100% has made me feel more 100%.

So, what level of perfect could you readjust to?

Words Of The Week

“Trying to convince myself I am allowed to take up space is like writing with my left hand when I was born to use my right”

― Rupi Kaur

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