When I was first starting my business, I collaborated on some projects with a partner who would always ask our clients one key question, “What does perfect look like?” It’s a question that has strengthened my professional interactions and how I approach my goal-setting.

Here’s the impact asking this simple question can create…

“What does perfect look like?” makes room for imagination. When we’re kids, we live curiously, and our imaginations run wild. Cardboard boxes become rockets, and old pieces of lumber become tree forts. We see animals in the clouds and roam through life unjaded. The older we get, the more we dial back our openness to imagination. We settle into what we “know” – the things we’ve picked up from our past experiences, both good and bad. Asking what perfect looks like reopens that old space where our imaginations once lived and allows us to envision what achieving our goals could look like if anything were possible. It allows us to think big again, like we did when we were kids, freeing us from the paradigms that keep us tied down.

“What does perfect look like?” inspires excellence. When we include the word “perfect” in the question, we approach the answer with a heightened level of expectation. We’re not asking, “What does good look like?” We’re not settling for “What would be adequate?” No. Instead, we’re opening ourselves up to define what perfect looks like. We may never achieve perfection. “Perfect” can be elusive and hard to capture. We are, however, pushing toward a result that is excellent, superior, and great.

“What does perfect look like?” creates a destination. You need to know where you’re going to get there. Asking what perfect looks like helps define where we’re headed and sets the tone for road mapping how we’ll get there. From a goal-setting perspective, this simple question positions us to move toward something. When we identify what is perfect for ourselves and create a vision for our perfect result, we now have a compass to guide us toward our goals. 

Apply this simple question to any of your goals:

  • Want a stronger marriage? Define what perfect looks like.
  • Want to get more fit? Define what perfect looks like.
  • Are you looking to get more out of your work? Define what perfect looks like.
  • Are you starting a new project? Define what perfect looks like.
  • Are you making a transition in your life? Define what perfect looks like.

Really define it. Paint a mental picture for yourself. What would it feel like to capture it? What would it sound like and look like? The more detail you can apply as you define your version of perfect, the better.

As I mentioned above, achieving perfection is challenging and can feel almost impossible. The point of this question is less about making perfection a reality and more about getting close to it. 

“If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars. But we found a whole new spin. If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in your reach! Anything can happen if you let it… Life is out there waiting, so go and get it.” – Mary Poppins

The Takeaway

As you prepare to set your new goals, ask yourself what perfect looks like. Then grab a pen and some paper and start writing down whatever comes to mind. Get clear on what “perfect” means to you as it ties to your goals. Use your imagination, open yourself up to excellence, set your destination… then get to work and start making it a reality.

Ready for more?

Follow me here for more insights just like this one as you begin working on your goals! You can also listen in to my Grit Meets Growth podcast here or on your favorite podcast platforms. Episodes are also available on YouTube here.

Get after it! – John