The Pursuit of Online Entrepreneurship
Podcast Episode 029 – How to Embrace Your Imperfections & Get Out of Your Own Way
How to Embrace your Imperfections & Get Out of Your Own Way
How do you define “perfectionist”? Do you see yourself as one?
Lots of entrepreneurs get bitten by the perfectionism bug. We do everything we can to grow our businesses, and yet, we trip ourselves up over the tiniest details. We keep ourselves from progressing forward if everything isn’t *just* right . . . And let’s be real: Nothing is EVER just right. So we idle. We put projects on the back burner, and we feel super bummed out when we don’t meet our own ridiculously high expectations.
As a recovering perfectionist, I know firsthand the damage this kind of attitude can have on an online business. I also understand where the desire to be perfect comes from—we’re putting our precious work out there online for everyone to see! The internet is forever! It has to look professional!
Do these excuses sound familiar? Don’t be embarrassed, I’ve made them too. But if I’ve learned one thing in my years as an online entrepreneur, it’s this:
DONE is better than PERFECT.
So today, I’m talking to you about my experiences with perfectionism, pointing out the harm you may not even realize your perfectionism is causing, and of course, teaching you how to EMBRACE your imperfections and get the heck out of your own way.
I’m on a mission to leave perfectionism in the dust, keep my own business on the up and up, and help others grow their businesses, too, along the way. Care to join me?
What Does Perfectionism Look Like?
Let’s start by discussing what being a “perfectionist” really means and what perfectionistic tendencies might look like in your life. After all, you can’t start overcoming your perfectionism issues if you’re not willing to admit that you have some!
Whether you consider yourself a full-blown perfectionist or not, there’s a pretty good chance you at least exhibit some perfectionistic tendencies. In fact, many of us perfectionists share a LOT of overlapping personality traits and may even come from similar backgrounds. These are just a few characteristics of your typical perfectionist:
1.You take pride in your “perfectionism.”
This doesn’t mean you believe yourself to be perfect—rather, it means you wear your perfectionism like a badge of honor. You love being that person who can’t rest until everything is perfect, and you relish opportunities to produce perfect work. You’re prone to stressing, overworking, biting off more than you can chew, and saying “yes” far too often because you value being seen as high achieving, successful, intelligent, and hard working.
2. You set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
This one’s a real doozy. You don’t just aim high—you aim for things that are completely unattainable (and usually feel crappy when you inevitably can’t hit your mark; see point 5). You tend to focus on the end-game, the result, and the desired outcome more than processes. That whole Instagram “enjoy the journey” thing could not be further from your reality.
3. You’re terrified of failing.
Nothing puts a pit in your stomach like the idea of making a big mistake, having to admit that you messed up, or falling short of a big goal. When you look at a task, you don’t see margins for error—it’s either perfect or it’s wrong, and you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you land squarely in “perfect.” Accomplishing 90% of your dream isn’t good enough, and not achieving that last 10% simply isn’t an option for you.
4. You get defensive when you feel inadequate.
Admitting when you’re being defensive is HARD but ask yourself: How do you react when “perfect” starts slipping away? What happens internally when you feel you’ve performed at anything less than the top of your game? Do you get anxious? Angry? Do you beat yourself up, lash out at others, and get easily annoyed by constructive criticism? If you answered yes to any of those, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re being overly defensive to hide your insecurities.
5. Your self-esteem is directly proportional to how “successful” you feel.
When you’re up, you’re UP, but when something doesn’t go according to plan . . . Whew. Perfectionists often suffer from severe self-doubt and the smallest sign that their negative beliefs about themselves might be true is enough to seriously impact their self esteem. Nothing makes you feel worse than feeling like you could have done better, and even when you do an awesome job and receive praise from others, you nitpick and find reasons to criticize yourself.
6. You’re a procrastinator.
Honestly, perfectionism is just procrastination with a pretty bow on top. You might feel like you have good reasons for why the work isn’t done yet, but at the end of the day . . . The reality is that it’s not done.Your fear of failure and desire for perfection couple to paralyze you. You’re so fixated on achieving that 100% perfect end result that you can’t call a project finished until it meets your exorbitantly high standards.
7. You think of yourself as a “high achiever.”
One of the most harmful myths out there about perfectionists is that “perfectionist” is a synonym for “high achiever.” Sorry if this rubs you the wrong way, but that’s not true! See, high achievers are people who push themselves to do great things. Like perfectionists, they value success. But UNLIKE perfectionists, high achievers see the value in the journey. They enjoy making mistakes because it means they’re learning and growing. They use imperfect experiences to fuel themselves and climb to new heights. Perfectionists, on the other hand, get bogged down by their shortcomings and almost always end up achieving less than your typical high achievers because we get in our own way.
Do you recognize any of these traits in yourself?
If you do, don’t worry. I’ve been exactly where you are. For brevity’s sake, I’ll leave it at that, but be sure to listen to the full podcast episode for the scoop on how I realized I was facing a perfectionism problem in my business and what I did to overcome my perfectionism.
So What Can You Do About It?
Look—this isn’t going to be easy or comfortable, but nothing worthwhile is. I broke out of my perfectionism cycle, and today, we’re going to break you out of yours too.
HERE ARE MY GO-TO STRATEGIES FOR BEATING PERFECTIONISM & ADOPTING A HEALTHIER ATTITUDE:
1.Embrace Progress & Push Forward.
Your pursuit for perfection can delay your progress and momentum. As entrepreneurs, there’s one thing we’re never short on: ideas! Try embracing a mindset of progress first around the subject of new ideas.
When you have a great idea, remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect for you to launch it. Just get started! Taking action is the first step to pushing yourself forward in spite of your perfectionism.
2. Ignore the Haters.
I know it feels like everyone is watching you and waiting for you to mess up. You think all your friends and family have their eyes on your growing online business, and that they’re just waiting for you to make a mistake. But the truth is, no one cares what you’re doing even half as much as you care. They’re all preoccupied with what’s happening in their own lives! So get used to making yourself visible, flaws and all, and cherish the people who love you for your authentic self. Everyone else can go to hell.
3. Take Imperfect Action.
Not only are we going to embrace progress and push forward—we’re going to intentionally do things imperfectly and be okay with that. One thing that always helps me is to set deadlines. You can work on your idea as much as you want up until your deadline, but one time is up, that’s it! The idea goes out into the world, ready or not. Chances are, the work WON’T be perfect by your deadline—and that’s the whole point. This is a great exercise to learn to be comfortable with A-/B+ work. You might also try writing and publishing a social media post without obsessing over it or posting a quick video to your Insta story without rehearsing what you’ll say first for a quick win.
Often times, the most important step you can take in any business decision is the step to START. Do it messy, as Chalene Johnson likes to say, but do it. Be okay with the chaos, make peace with the fact that you’ll make mistakes but mistakes bring on learning opportunities. See each mistep as an opportunity to practice your resilience, because that IS a characteristic you need as an entrepreneur.
4. Enjoy the Journey!
Yesss it’s a little cheesy and you’ve seen it plastered all over your Instagram and Pinterest . . . But remember to enjoy the journey! Seriously! Pay attention to how you spend your entire day. Where are your hours going? Sometimes we feel busier than we really are because we’re wasting TONS of time obsessing over things that don’t really matter to the big picture.
Even if you think you’ve got a plan (and believe me—I do LOVE creating a good plan, whether it be in Asana, Google Calendar, or my little 5x7 notebook), it’s absolutely impossible to plan for everything. Perfection is a myth, so you might as well focus on spending your time on stuff that makes you feel happy.
One of the biggest mistakes I see perfectionists make is to say things like, “I’ll be happy once it’s done.” This is no different than saying, “I’ll be happy when I lose the 20 lbs, I’ll be happy when I find the perfect house, I’ll be happy when I make my first million,” blah blah blah. And so we go, postponing our happiness until a certain goal is met. A goal which might not even be achievable, and that we’ll happily swap out for a newer, higher, more difficult goal if we do happen to meet it.
That’s not a cycle you want to be stuck in, is it? You CAN’T attach your happiness to uncertain outcomes. Learn to be happy where you are in the present moment.
5. Reflect on How Far You’ve Come.
I want to keep things real for us. Even if you work towards being more positive and more present, you’re still going to have bad days. There will always be times when you don’t sleep well, your ads campaign isn’t performing the way you hoped, your laptop is being glitchy, a handful of folks unsubscribed from your list . . . Whatever. In those moments, I want you to practice reflecting on how far you’ve come.
Moments like that can feel demoralizing, but it’s in those moment that it’s super important to pause, acknowledge your feelings, and then move on. Do your best not to dwell in the negativity and remember that you ARE growing and learning, whether you always feel like it or not. Think back to where you started your online business journey and ask yourself, how much closer to your goals have you gotten in the last month, six months, year? Are there things you feel proud of? Give yourself credit and remember that every day isn’t supposed to be perfect.
I know that’s a lot to take in, but you’ve got this! Feel free to bookmark this blog for some quick inspiration next time your perfectionism is getting the best of you, and be sure to listen to Podcast Episode 29 for a deep-dive into everything we just talked about.
I often close out my podcasts with an inspirational reminder to take imperfect action, and today more than ever, that seems like an appropriate note to end on. I hope this information gives you the motivation and confidence you need to let go of your sense of perfection and just start moving forward. IMPERFECTION IS BEAUTIFUL. Embrace your imperfections and get out of your own way today!
Now It’s Your Turn . . .
I’d love to hear from you. Scroll on down to that comments box and let me know:
Are you a perfectionist? And if you are (or if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me), how do you embrace your imperfections?
Have you subscribed to The Pursuit of Online Entrepreneurship Podcast yet? If you want to make sure you never miss an ounce of inspiration, that’s the easiest way. You’ll get notifications about each week’s new episode. If you HAVE subscribed and love what you’re hearing, thank you so much! Could you take 20 seconds to leave a review on iTunes? Doing so helps us grow this community, and I personally love reading every single review.
I’ll see you next week when we’ll talk about How to Make Money Online With Your Knowledge, Skills, & Expertise. I’m really looking forward to this one and think you’ll get a lot out of it!
Thank you for showing up for me, for yourself, and for your business. Bye for now!
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