I have a serious problem. This problem might be my most limiting personality trait. I ignored this problem for so long because it can also be one of my most impressive strengths.
Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a perfectionist. As far back as I can remember, this has always been true. And as much as my perfectionism guides me to the highest caliber work, the upside hasn’t been worth it. You see, this perfectionism I have leads to paralysis. I overthink, and therefore instead of getting on with it and beginning whatever task or job I have in front of me, I stop and do nothing instead.
You might have noticed that I publish a blog post every month. What you don’t know is that I also have 13 unfinished articles sitting in a folder on my computer. Most of the time I tell myself I need to do more research or think about what I want to convey more precisely, but truthfully, it’s typically because the perfectionism in me doesn’t think the article is good enough to publish. There’s one small piece, maybe in the headline, or a word in the ending, that makes it just shy of great. And then I scrap it altogether.
It holds me back in other areas, too. For instance, I am a planner. I like to have a very well-thought blueprint before I begin anything new. I want to start a podcast. The only problem is that I’ve been talking about recording a podcast for about eight months now. But before I can record my first show, I tell myself I need to have a perfectly organized brand, schedule of guests, the mission statement, the highest quality equipment, a schedule of release dates… I could go on forever. A standard that I will never be able to meet, because the expectations are sky high. It leaves no room for exploration, and all the room to fail. It’s actually pretty embarrassing to admit.
Somehow, I’ve gotten hung up on thinking that I need to have the complete plan in place before I actually begin at all. That’s so immobilizing and honestly just down right senseless. I want to be thoughtful, but at some point, you have to just start. It doesn’t matter your profession–authors, directors, coaches, teachers. There are obstacles with any task or project, and they can be solved and learned by actually doing. And guess what else? When you take action, it almost always turns out fine!
Action, not thought, leads to clarity.
So in conclusion, I wanted to share my underlying goal for 2020 and the new decade as a whole. Start. Let me say that again. Just. Start. Whatever that thing is. Whatever little goal or idea you’ve been toying with for six months or six years but never had the courage to say, hey, I’m just going to do this thing. Even if the plan is only in its infancy. Even if you don’t have all the answers. Just. Start.
My promise to you and to myself for this next year is that if I have an idea, I’ll identify one step to get started and I’ll execute on that step within 24 hours. If I don’t, the thought will get shelved and I’m not allowed to talk about it because clearly, it is not a big enough priority to me (which by the way, is also perfectly okay).
My ask is that you hold me accountable for this promise. If you hear me mention something I want to do, I strongly encourage you to ask what my next step is. Call me out if I’m not making moves. I want to eradicate the story I tell myself about looking imperfect or being scared to be seen starting too small.
If this resonates with you, do yourself a favor and take on the promise above. Let me know so we can be each others accountability partners. And finally, be patient with yourself and allow yourself to fail, readjust and try again — this will be a challenge for me as well.
You do not have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.
I want to hear your thoughts and of course know if you also suffer from this form of perfectionism. Connect with me or send me an email at email@example.com.
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And of course, as always, thanks to my editor, my biggest cheerleader and amazing partner Gaby Deimeke.