Half Done Is Almost Perfect

I’ve always been a fan of the quote, “Done is perfect.”   That said, I have my own version of that quote: “Half-done is almost perfect.”  Apparently, not everyone agrees with me, because when I looked up synonyms for the word half-done, I saw words like, unaccomplished, unfinished, incomplete, and neglected. Well, I just don’t see it that way, especially because I have a completely different connection to the word half-done.

It started when I was in my early 20’s.  I was in an open water swimming race, and the task was a bit intimidating for me.  The race consisted of a 2.4-mile ocean swim that took us out to a buoy at the half way point of the race, and back.  I can still remember that buoy marked by a big box on the top, because it seemed impossibly far away.   As I stood on the shoreline before the race began, all I kept thinking was this: “Just get out to that buoy, you can turn for home, and you’ll be fine.”

After we lined up along the beach, I joined 750 other race contestants nervously making our way into the water.  Once the race began, and the swimmers began to distance themselves from each other, I settled into a routine with simple mantra; “focus on your technique, control what you can control, and fight your way to that buoy! 

That mantra served me well, but something interesting occurred in that race that I wasn’t expecting.  Once I actually did get myself around that buoy and turned back to the shore, I felt a bolt of energy, and for the first time, I could feel myself relaxing just a bit.  After all, I was no longer swimming away from safety and certainty; I was swimming back to it.  The focus on my technique was no longer manufactured; it was effortless.  I felt in control of my situation, and I grew stronger from it. The act of psychologically moving past that buoy and the halfway point made the task easier because I wasn’t questioning if I would succeed; I was focusing on when I’d succeed. 

As no surprise to anyone, my split time was significantly faster swimming back to shore than swimming away from it.  I had more strength and endurance because I was no longer wasting energy questioning whether I would succeed at my task.  From that day on, I approached each endurance event in the same way: Whether I was swimming, running, cycling, or hiking, I looked for what would be the halfway point, and mentally referred to that as my buoy.  Once I reached that buoy, my mental and physical state always improved… dramatically.

We all participate in our own type of endurance events, most of which have nothing to do with actually racing, or even sports. When I write books, or mentor others in writing their books, one of the first things I look for is an expected wordcount.  If that wordcount or goal is 50,000 words, the halfway point, or, the “buoy,” is 25,000 words.  It’s not easy writing 25,000 words. In fact, it’s often not much fun at all.  But do you know what is fun? The second 25,000 words, because it represents getting around that buoy, and turning back to the shore.  

In fact, this half-done image, represented by a simple buoy floating in the water, can be applied to almost any task that comes with long-term goals;  

  • A financial goal in business
  • Earning a degree or professional certificate
  • Expanding your professional network   

Think about some of the larger goals that you may have. What is the buoy that can represent a half-done position in one of your big goals?   Done may be perfect, but a half-done milestone deserves much more attention than we naturally give it.  It provides the momentum we all look for as we take on an overwhelming task.  Look for the buoy in any of your long-term goals, and you’ll find that finishing is within your grasp. 

Related: The Battle Between Instinct and Logic