It is surprising how many of us pursue perfection whilst grossly overlooking the idea of getting things imperfectly done. We do that not only when it comes to becoming more sustainable but also in every other aspect of our lives.
The more we care about an idea, the more we refrain from acting on it, the more we want to perfect it before releasing it into the world. But the sad truth is that ideas not acted upon never get a chance to evolve, to progress.
Why done is better than perfect?
Well, the general idea is that action is precisely what an idea needs to become perfect. If we refrain from action and try to perfect an idea in our minds before actually doing anything, we take out of the equation the core element of perfection. After all, experience is what makes everything perfect. Our ideas are no different.
Ideas you act upon receive feedback from the world. Ideas you act on work as you expected (or don’t). Action gives real-world experience to ideas and makes them better.
Let’s talk about specific examples. If you think about writing a blog but never actually gets started, you will never learn anything new about writing a blog. Our brains are bad at estimating potential outcomes. Thoughts exist to shape action whilst we are at it. Thinking without acting does not lead to better, flawless thoughts. The opposite is true. The more we think, the harder it becomes to act. Actions have more complexity in our heads than what they would have in the real world. The more we think, the more unlikely outcomes we tend to predict. We tend to get lost in the sea thoughts and we never discover what really can happen if we would only act.
On being imperfectly sustainable
When it comes to sustainability and your contribution to a better world is no different. We all want to do our part for a healthier planet. More often than not, we also know what we could do to contribute, however, we tend to take simple concepts to extremes. We think too much and act too little. We strive for perfection and because we know we can’t achieve it, we stop ourselves from trying.
For instance, we all know red meat has a substantial carbon footprint. However, this doesn’t mean that to contribute and reduce your carbon footprint you must be vegan. You can simply make a decision to reduce your red meat consumption for one week, one day, or even for one meal. You will know how much you’ll miss (or not) read meat if you try to go without it (even if only for a few hours). Getting started and progressing day in and day out is what matters. Don’t delay your start and wait for perfect. Start now, even if you start slow. Small actions tend to grow into habits over time. And you will get better at acting according to your beliefs.
Action and experience are what makes everything perfect!
We all want to reduce our waste, but we all get way too caught up in the idea of zero waste. When reducing gradually is a lot easier and not to mention a lot more helpful than doing nothing. We all know that waiting for the magical day when you suddenly figure out overnight how to comfortably eliminate waste from your life is not a very good idea, and yet, some of us do just that, refrain from acting and wait for the perfect solution.
My piece of advice when it comes to sustainability (and everything else really) is a simple and yet powerful one: start wherever you are and with everything you have right now. Stop thinking and waiting for the perfect conditions. Stop predicting outcomes. Try things and see what are the actual outcomes. As you act, and whilst you are at it, things become easier. Challenges are always much harder to overcome in our imagination than they would ever be in reality. Start small and grow bigger and bolder as you go!
We’ve found this link very helpful for more tips on how to become more sustainable. And if you want to know about a few social enterprises setting out great examples in terms of ethical and sustainable behaviour, click here!