Vinod Kurup

Hospitalist/programmer in search of the meaning of life

Imperfection

I’ve had a lot of great plans which I’ve never fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong. My life is beyond great and I see it getting better every day. There just happen to be a lot of things that I’ve planned to do which I have not done.

I planned to create a web-based running log. I actually did do this and used it for a long time, but I never did build in enough features to make it worthwhile for others to use. Or even enough to make it exciting for me to use.

I planned to create a system to help me keep track of my finances. Something that would give me a snapshot of where we are now while also letting me know if we were on track for where we want to be. I am meticulous about recording all of our financial transactions (in a great program called ledger), but I haven’t taken the next step to easily and simply analyze that data.

I planned to create checklists that would make it easier to do my daily work in the hospital. There are certain things that I do everyday, or for every patient, that from time to time I forget. It’s not even that I necessarily forget it. Sometimes, I just don’t remember if I did it, so I have to go back and check, often finding that I didn’t forget. Following a checklist would remove that doubt.

I planned to make my website really reflect me. It would have more stuff about my interests and the things that are happening in our lives. I read a lot and think a little and I’m sure some of these insights, however mundane, might help someone else who happens to be thinking about the same thing.

I planned to create a website for our family. A place where anyone in the family could create their own space to do whatever they want. A place where we could document and investigate our family tree and our family history. I actually built some of this over 10 years ago but took it down because I needed to password protect it (at the request of some family members). It’s now more than 10 years later and I haven’t done that simple task.

I planned to create a website for my father which would talk about the great things that he has done in the world of science and now in the world of religion. Fortunately, he beat me to it, but I want to make his site even better.

I planned to create a website for my brother-in-law, Ethan, who is starting an immigration law practice here in Durham, NC. This finally got done, but there are so many things to do to make it better.

These are just a tiny percentage of the failed projects on my list. What’s the point of all of this ‘woulda shoulda coulda’? I just read a great article over at defmacro.com called ”Taming Perfectionism”. It’s about me. OK, I’m not 100% sure he meant to write about me, but that description is me. All of these projects that I listed are relatively simple. The reason they’re not done is because whenever I think about them, I start to get overwhelmed. I cannot begin to work on one detail without thinking about the perfect way to implement that detail. Let’s make a running log. OK, but first, let’s model the database. Is that third-normal form? Hmmm… I wonder if I should write the unit tests before the database. Let me google ‘unit testing software’. And before you know it, I’m back to my RSS reader to do some passive reading. On that vein, I happened to find this little video on 43Folders at the same time that I read the “Taming Perfectionism” article. It’s an oldie by Ze Frank, who is amazing:

So, I feel like the internets are conspiring to get me to drop my perfectionism. And writing this article is my first step. I won’t get everything on my todo list done, but I’m going to make an effort to be a little more imperfect. I hope you don’t mind.