There’s a common refrain in the entrepreneurial world to “Start before you’re ready!”.
It’s a motivating phrase, and a smart business move, but it’s easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me.
And not just in business.
I always thought that a perfectionist’s life looked perfect—and so I very obviously couldn’t be one!—but, in fact, I think often the opposite is true. For the perfectionist, no situation, no time, no personal ability is right, is enough to keep us from missing the mark, from making a misstep, from potentially failing big . . . but still we wait, holding out hope for the ideal situation, the right time, the guarantee that we have what it takes.
We wait for perfect—and wait and wait and wait—though we know, deep down, it never comes.
Up until (very) recently, I was what has been termed a “discouraged perfectionist”: I feared failure, feared starting new things, and fought to finish the things I did start. It’s held me back and it’s held me down. The pursuit of perfection is a real thing (especially among women, it seems) and it’s a hard habit to break.
As I’ve been making major changes in my life, I have had to fight hard against the inclination to do everything “perfectly”. If I want to see any real and lasting change in my life—and there are quite a few areas where I do—then I have to.
Because the problem with waiting for perfect—the perfect design, the perfect launch, the perfect diet, the perfect life—is that we’ll be waiting forever. There is no perfect and there is no time when any of us will meet the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves—because they are just that: impossibly high.
Waiting until things are perfect can also be an excuse—a clever way of putting off what we want or need to do until the circumstances are ideal—an outcome we know we’ll never reach . . . and so, we never have to try.
I’m personally done with my (impossibly) high standards and I’m done making excuses. I’m taking imperfect action. I’m not purposely pursuing the wrong things or putting out work without care or thoughtfulness, but I am embracing the messy, the mistakes, the muddled.
I’m asking myself: what if what I get from just starting—from trying, launching, sharing before I think I’m ready to—is even better than what I ever imagined “perfect” might be?
And I ask the same of you.
While it’s easier said than done, I’m working on not waiting for perfect, on starting before I’m ready, on showing up with all I’ve got exactly as I am. I hope you’ll join me, too.
When’s the last time you took imperfect action?
Share your story with me (and motivate me!) in the comments below!