“Done is better than perfect”. I first heard this phrase at a conference a few years ago and since then, I’ve heard it rephrased in many ways.
Progress over perfection.
Take imperfect action.
But what does it mean? I’ll tell you what it means to me.
It means getting things done.
It means that good enough, is enough.
It makes me stop striving for perfection.
It stops me getting stuck: paralysed in not doing the things I want to do because if it isn’t 100% perfect or finished or polished, I’d use that as an excuse not to just do it.
For years I would own and love the label of being a Perfectionist. It gave me misplaced pride in thinking that taking too long to get something just right, actually mattered.
- If the blog post I’d written hadn’t been proofread at least three times, I wouldn’t publish it.
- If I cheated on my diet that day, I’d give up for the rest of it and vow to ‘start again tomorrow’. (When I would undoubtedly cheat again and never really start anything I planned on finishing).
- An idea for a new article or challenge or product to help you all wasn’t quite finalised in my mind so I’d ditch it.
- Or I’d worry about how something I’d post on social media would go down and I’d get into paralysis analysis to the point of never even posting it.
Why does it happen?
I could blame being a ‘natural perfectionist’, of wanting to do a great job or wanting to get things right but those things aren’t the reason I wouldn’t complete things.
It was fear.
Fear of doing the things that might not be perceived as being good enough.
Fear of exposing my flaws.
Fear of getting things wrong.
And mainly: fear of being judged.
And I think you’ll get this too – how being fearful of what others might think of us holds us back from being our true selves.
I’m not over it – it’s a daily challenge for me to overcome this kind of fear.
It isn’t always the perception of others that prevents us from being brave though. Often, we are our very own harshest critics.
In the pursuit of perfection, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve played out in my head the possible things trolls might say if I post a particular image or opinion on Instagram.
I’ll run through the potential replies, complaints, challenges and attacks to the point it stops me from posting anything at all.
Searching for perfectionism on social media left me sitting on a comfortable fence for a lot of the time. Holding back, from you and myself.
But hearing that phrase, “done is better than perfect”, started something in me.
It did get me into action and let me tell you, once you start putting yourself out there, starting the things – you start finishing them too. You begin to see what you’re made of, what can be achieved in your life and how very little the perfect version of what you might have done actually mattered.
No-one wants perfection from you – they just want you in their lives.
And the time and ideas and half-finished projects that you have stored in your physical and mental Drafts folder need to be released now. Just start.
- Post the post
- Start writing the book
- Make the call
- Sign up for something
- Make the changes
- Start something.
Then keep going, every day take more imperfect action until one day, something gets done.
Not perfect, but done.
I know you get this too and that you have a multitude of ideas that you would love to bring to life.
I challenge you to start them! Start letting go of perfectionism – it’s preventing you from achieving the great things in your life that I know you can.
Think about the amazing thing you’ve already achieved. Imagine if you’d never made that first step or let yourself drown in worry or fear that the end result might not be the best it could be.
Let’s stop limiting or censoring ourselves, preventing our own growth and not following through on the things we’re passionate about.
YOUR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION ACTION PLAN
I’ve thought about how I can help you get your ideas out of your head, on to paper and start to life. So, I’ve created a worksheet for you to move you forward into action!
I’ll leave you what my mentor, Jim Fortin, told me: a quote about striving for perfection.
In episode 28 of his podcast, he talks about the attachment we have to getting a perfect outcome and how we’re so committed to aiming for it, we don’t even start at all. Of course, we can’t control the outcome of anything, as much as we may like to. You can listen to episode 28 here and I promise you’ll get so much from it.
Whenever I start getting into trying to be perfect, I reflect on this and realise that the time and energy I’m wasting could be much better spent moving on to the next thing on my list. I get into action, do the thing, put it out there. And move on.
What’s one thing you can start taking action on today?