I stewed over starting a “what I’ve learned series” for months before actually doing it. I think my desire to write about things I’ve learned comes primarily from the fact that I feel like I’ve learned so much lately. I also feel like our entire lives are based on learning. With each passing day, we learn something new. With each passing year, we grow into better versions of ourselves (hopefully). We are constantly learning new things about ourselves and this world we live in, and that’s something that I’ve felt called to talk about.
So here we have it…a post that’s hopefully a part of an ongoing discussion about what I’ve learned and what it means. Today, I want to discuss what I’ve learned in regards to striving for perfection. I have been known to wait to do things until it’s perfectly planned out. I may or may not have proofread things to death before ever letting them go. It’s possible that I’ve avoided certain things altogether because I didn’t feel like I had time to do it to its absolute best. I’ve definitely been called a perfectionist a time or two, and while having perfectionist tendencies can be a good thing, it’s certainly not a title that I love. Actually, I’ve found that the goal of perfection is often debilitating. Often, this mirage of perfection sucks up tons of valuable time or worse, prevents us from accomplishing anything at all.
I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point in the past year, I finally realized that I had to let some things go. I needed to learn to delegate tasks in order to grow my business. If I spent less time perfecting every little thing, I could get so much more done! Sure, every single person that I know might not get a beautiful birthday card with a wonderfully scripted message, BUT if just a handful of the people I knew got a card, that was better than none. If the card was basic and simple, it was better than no card at all. I finally realized that I was spending way too much time trying to do everything perfectly, such that most of my good ideas weren’t being implemented at all. A church sign once read, ”The smallest deed is better that the grandest intention.” I was full of intentions…not deeds.
If you, too, suffer from dwelling on perfection, what do you do to overcome it?? That’s a hard question and my solution isn’t too elaborate. You just start doing things. I had to learn to just throw things out there. Within the last couple of months, I’ve “just done” several things that would have normally taken me months and months to implement. For example, this year I mailed a Halloween letter to anyone I had a mailing address for. I ordered the supplies, drafted the content, and then basically turned the rest of the project over to my assistant. I didn’t even see them before they were mailed! (Those of you who know me pretty well know this was a HUGE step for me.) I did something similar with a Thanksgiving promotional piece. I created the plan/content and then handed over the reins. These were prepped and delivered while I was in another state! To take this a step further, I began working on and produced two different Christmas cards in less than 24 hours. Something of this nature would have normally taken me months!
Here’s the deal though. I accomplished four tasks in a short amount of time that I wouldn’t have otherwise done if I’d approached them with my usual mindset. I’ll admit, these four tasks could have been done better. However, with my usual approach, they likely wouldn’t have gotten done at all. This is especially true for our personal Christmas cards. I had to settle on something less than perfect because of time constraints. If I hadn’t sacrificed perfection, we wouldn’t be sending a card this year. Which is worse – a less-than-perfect card or no card at all? We all know how much I love paper products. For me, it was no card at all.
I did something similar with this blog. I spent months and months toying over the idea of starting a blog. I was doing all of the “research,” (In many cases, “research” is code for avoiding the jump.), but I was so caught up in knowing how to do every little thing, that I postponed starting it. Finally, I dove in head first with this post. If I would have known everything there was to know before making that first post, it would have never happened. Most of the time starting it the hardest part. After that, the pieces tend to fall together. Actually, I struggle with this on a daily basis with this blog. Most of the time, I have to make myself hit the publish button. Usually it’s with my eyes closed and a cringed face. You know…that one that looks like you’re about to get hit with a bat. The reality is, some of my posts have typos. Most of them could be written so much better. However, if I read every post 30+ times, nothing would get shared here. I’d change something every single time I read it and eventually I’d be so burdened by the roughness of it, that it would never get posted. Instead, I write, proofread a few times, and then cringe while clicking submit. I take a gamble with every post that it’s poorly written, no one will relate, and I spelled every single word wrong. However, it could be my best post yet. It could really make a difference for someone, and I could be thrilled to come back and read it years from now. (That’s a truly scary thought.) It’s worth the risk.
Is there something you should just hit “publish” on? Is there something that you’re waiting to do until you have a perfect plan? Is there something you haven’t been able to mark off of your list because you keep analyzing it from all angles? If there is, take some time to really think about the time you’re wasting. If you jumped in head first today, would you really regret it? Would it be detrimental to your life? Most likely not. Instead, we’ve been wasting valuable time waiting. Waiting on the right time or the right plan. Waiting on perfection. Well, I’ve decided that imperfection is beautiful. Imperfection is real. Maybe, just maybe, putting things “out there” without them being perfectly polished might make you more relatable. (Please say that my typos make me more relatable. I’m counting on that.) I haven’t mastered this yet, but I’m going to keep working on putting more things on the “deed” side of the balance and less on the “intention” side.
“Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.” – Isabelle in Downton Abbey. Don’t be afraid to look a little ridiculous sometimes. That’s just life.