A few months ago I had an issue of stress and high blood pressure, probably because I was in a pretty bad phase in my life. I went to a doctor to check if there’s anything medical that’s causing this, and he said I should lower the amount of coffee I drink. I had to go from about four cups a day to a maximum of two. I can’t say this method had a good impact on me – I had a lot of headaches and felt pretty dizzy all the time, but it did teach me a lesson about my priorities.
Like Joni Mitchell said in her song Big Yellow Taxi, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. I was left with two cups of coffee that meant the world to me. The first cup was the one that helped me wake up in the morning, and the other one was supposed to be a noon-boost at work. So, to every very important cup of coffee I set very strict standards – Either it’s amazing or it’s free. I won’t compromise on an okay cup of coffee at an okay cafe.
What does this have to do with life?
I know being that coffee-snob sounds pretty weird and really irrelevant for life, but this coffee-perfectionism made me realize that there are things in life I can’t compromise on (and yes, coffee is one of these things). So, I decided to implement this attitude in life – if I get a mission that is important to me, I’ll work my ass out and give everything I have to it, and I won’t compromise on a “good enough” work. If I need to buy something that’s important to me – I’ll buy the best model that suits my needs. Eventually, if we cut corners on the way, we’ll pay for it in the future. For instance, if I’ll get a job and won’t do it in the best way, I’ll have to fix my work and suffer from a lot of patches, fixes and headaches.
I’m saying all this, knowing it’s not that easy to make something perfect and not just good enough. According to the Pareto Principle (The 80–20 Rule), I can do something that is 80% good, with a 20% effort, but to get to the 100%, I have to give an additional 80% effort. Let’s put it in simple words – A good enough result will be cheap and a perfect result will be couple of times more expensive. Let’s get back to coffee – In Tel Aviv, an okay cup of coffee would cost me 5 NIS (which is a bit more than 1$), and my perfect cup of coffee would cost me about 16 NIS (about 4$). So, a perfect result, in terms of coffee, is 3.2 times more expensive. A better example for my point is the posts I write. Writing them will take me about 20% of the time needed for a perfect post (in my point of view). Checking them and looking for ways to upgrade them is another 80% of the time. When I don’t spend those 80%, I’m disappointed from the result on a later time.
Now that’s a bit pretentious
Yes. It is pretentious and ambitious, and it’s not an attitude to lead every part of life, but this attitude is forcing you to understand – what is your cup of coffee? To know how to set your resources right and not kill yourself on the way, you need to know what are your priorities. I, for example, decided that my pleasure is coffee (pretty obvious), and that I need, as a first priority, to get as professional as I can in design, so I decided to spend a lot of time opening up this blog and talk about design, and spend a lot of money on the best computer that will let me create the best designs, and to push myself to as many projects as I can, aspired to get to the point I’m satisfied with my design skills and achievements.
I don’t want to brag, but…
Since I started using this attitude, I feel my goals are much purer. I know exactly what I want to achieve and what I’m willing to do in order to achieve it. Moreover, I know exactly what I don’t want to achieve and spent resources on. I don’t feel bad saying “no” to opportunities that aren’t meaningful to me. For example, I know I don’t want to get into projects that don’t know how to work with a UX designer (i.e. “Could you make a UX-y icon?”), or projects that don’t give me any challenge.
It’s that simple. Decide what are your cups of coffee in life, be snobs about them, don’t compromise on anything regarding those cups, and don’t waste any unnecessary resources on domains that won’t satisfy you.
What is your cup of coffee, and how do you prioritize it? Let me know in the comments!