Do you have a big project you’ve dreamed of starting? I know the exhilaration of having big goals. And I also know how miserable it feels to get stuck pursuing those dreams. Here is my best advice for you. Don’t wait. Break up with perfectionism and do something now!
Perfectionism is cunning. She’ll whisper in your ear,
- Wait, you don’t know enough yet. Go and learn more first.
- You’re an imposter! Who are you to do that? Achieve more first.
- Hold on just a minute. Study more. Then your work will be even better.
I’m experienced enough to know that perfectionism is a liar!
Her aim is to hold you off for as long as possible. Perfectionism will never say, to you “Finally! Now is the time to start.” Instead, she will keep inventing excuses tho prevent you from achieving your goal.
The old axiom, “The best time to start was yesterday, and the next best time to start is today,” hold true.
So don’t wait. get started now!
Don’t Wait: My Experiment in Leaving Perfectionism Behind
This month I’m trying an experiment. It involves putting my own advice into action. I am breaking up with perfectionism and doing something now. In fact, I’m starting at this very moment—while writing this post, of course. It’s currently well after 7pm. This is my least favorite time to write. My energy is low. And my inner perfectionist is screaming, “Jed, your post will be so much better if you wait until morning.”
I envision myself waking early, brewing a fresh pot of coffee, and sitting down for two hours of uninterrupted writing bliss. Morning is a better time to do something, I think to myself. This is a beautiful thought. The problem is I know if I keep waiting for that perfect moment, nothing will get done. I’ve learned this the hard way. For nearly six months, I have neglected my blog. Why? Because I waited for the perfect time to write. As a busy dad of three girls, the perfect time never came.
This time, when the voice of perfectionism whispered in my ear, I recognized it. Then, I decided to do something different. I chose to break up with perfectionism and do something now!
This blog post is my experiment in leaving perfectionism behind. Will you join me in my experiment?
To start, simply identify something you’ve been putting off. Then, don’t wait.
Don’t wait for the timing to be perfect. Or for your creativity to kick in. Don’t wait to feel like starting. (This is important because feelings often follow actions. Get started and the feelings of enthusiasm and joy will eventually follow.) Don’t wait for others to join you, or until you feel like an expert.
Instead, do something now!
Do Something Now
As a therapist, I encourage others to start moving toward their goals now—as in right now! Some of the best advice I offer is, “Take action. Because doing something is almost always better than doing nothing.” As a college psychology professor, I’ve had students fail assignments due to waiting for the perfect time to start. I have also seen adults miss good jobs as they wait for better offers.
50 percent of success comes merely from showing up. And 90 percent of success comes from showing up with a positive attitude, over and over again. So don’t wait. Break up with perfectionism, and do something now!
The advice to do something is also found in Choice Theory. Choice Theory teaches that little decisions compound over time to produce big results. Sadly, I can be guilty of failing to follow my own advice. For example, I will postpone exercising because I only have ten minutes to spare. My inner procrastinator convinces me that it would be better to wait and work out for half-an-hour later. I bet you can guess what happens next. That glorious half-hour of free time never comes, and neither does working out.
Why We Fail to Act
Do something. Get started now and the momentum will build. In my head I know this. Yet, there are many days I fail to take my own advice.
Why is this?
Sometimes we fail to start because we are waiting for a better time. Other’s procrastinate because they want to learn more first. Most people wrestle with imposter syndrome. So if you sometimes think to yourself, Who am I to do this when others are much more qualified? Then congratulations, you are normal. Some of the very best athletes, authors, and businessmen still believe they got where they are by mistake.
Do Something – The Trick is to Start
I once heard a motivational speaker say that most people don’t need additional knowledge. They need someone standing behind them yelling, “RUN!”
When we act on what we know, we learn, grow, and prepare ourselves for the next step. Rarely do all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place before we begin. Some lessons can only be learned on the journey. This means the key is to start. Is your inner critic holding you back? Does she whisper, “Wait, later is better?” If so, you may be dating perfectionism, and now is a great time to break up.
Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even small children are known by their actions.” The key word in this verse is actions. Actions define us, not our intentions. Feeling passionate about something is not enough. Movement is necessary. This is not to say that we should rush headfirst into everything. There is a mapping phase to life. Times of thoughtful calculation are important. However, once the course is outlined, we must do something.
Now, is time to begin!
How to Break Up With Perfectionism
Fortunately, breaking up with perfectionism is easy. All you have to do is start.
Do something—anything—and you’ll immediately leave perfectionism behind.
Then, slowly but surely, momentum will build. Momentum is a powerful ally to have. The first step is always the hardest. Will you join me in stepping out in faith and getting started now?
If procrastination is holding you back, then you must find a way to break up with perfectionism. You must do something now! I invite you to join me in this month-long experiment. If I have five minutes to write, then I am going to write for five minutes. My plan is to take action at every available opportunity. Instead of waiting for that perfect moment, I am going to:
- Break up with perfectionism.
- Stop flirting with procrastination.
- Do something.
- Start now.
Will you join me ?
Don’t wait. Do something now. Experience is the best teacher, and doing something is always better than doing nothing.
Continue the Conversation
Now that I have outlined my action plan, I’d love to hear from you.
- Do you also have perfectionistic tendencies?
- What thoughts hold you back from pursuing your big dreams?
- What would it look like if you decided to break up with perfectionism and do something now?
- How will it feel when you finally achieve your big goal?
- Are there any thoughts you would add to this post on getting started now?
Don’t wait to dive into your big goals. And don’t wait to add your thoughts to this conversation. Do something now—as in right now! I can’t wait to hear from you.