There are a couple things on my radar screen that talk about variations on the idea of perfection. All of them suggest that while perfection might be the goal that you have, what you are doing today should be on a much simpler scale. Just do something that will move you in the right direction, rather than believing you could do it all and jump to perfection from where you are today.
Today's Boston Globe Ideas section has No big deal, which suggests, "The key to solving the planet’s most daunting problems: Think small." Yesterday, I attended a TOC ICO webinar with Eli Schragenheim on the topic of decision-making in our uncertain and complex world. My readers know that I have been reading a wide variety of literature on Theory of Constraints - and one of the biggest components of TOC the basic 5-step method, which is the Process of Ongoing Improvement. And I am in the middle of reading Womack & Jones' Lean Thinking, which describes the final step of the Lean methodology as "perfection," but in the same way: always seek it.
These all come together in a fairly simple idea: take a reasonable step in the correct direction. Then evaluate the result, look at the options, and take another step. Again and again and again. You will discover that the definition of perfect changes as you get to where you think you wanted to be. This isn't to inspire frustration, it is to inspire action.
The problem with the boil-the-ocean approaches is that any action we take has uncertainty / variability / complexity attached to it. Will the action achieve the desired goal (and how much of it)? Will the action cause side effects (and are those good or bad)? Are there other factors that impinge upon the action when we get into the real world? It is so easy to get wrapped up in these questions and do nothing.
In order to get closer to the goal, take steps in that direction!
[Photo: "Progress" by David Ingram]