Perfectionism is procrastination.
It really is. How many hours, days, months, or years have you been waiting for the perfect moment to start your creative project or business? When I saw my friends struggling for days on choosing the right template for their portfolio, I told them, “Just pick something and start from there.”
I’ve learned the lesson in a hard way, too. I have been looking for a job (or “career”) that really speaks to me. I wasn’t sure what I want, and I was afraid that I’d choose the wrong one that leads me to somewhere I don’t want to be. Bad idea. Because not only did I learn nothing during the time, but I decided on nothing, either.
Perfectionism is boring. The real thought behind “I’m not good enough” should be “I’m not good enough YET.” We probably don’t even know when is the right time to call ourselves “good enough” or expert. So decide it now, ship it out, and let go the thought that you need to be ready. Nothing is ready.
Here are some techniques that have helped me overcome perfectionism:
1. Set deadlines
Break your bigger goal into small, achievable goals, and set deadlines for those small goals.
For instance, if the project is due next Friday, plan out what you need to do every day before next Friday, and make sure you follow the schedule you set for yourself. If anything got delayed, plan out the deadlines again.
This way, you have total control of what needs to happen and what needs to be done. Once a decision is made, don’t go back and forth on other options because you’ll get into that rabbit hole again.
2. Ship it out
Whether it’s a book, a passion project, a website, or just a blog post, constantly publish your work to the world is the best cure for perfectionism.
I’m always afraid of criticism or what other people would think about my work, but hey, I’ve written 18 blog posts this year (and still ongoing) and I’m very proud of it. Even if nobody read my articles, I’d still write because it feels so good to put something out there.
Your job is not to deliver perfect arts, but to deliver arts.
3. Do it early
Do whatever you need or want to do early will help you be more prepared.
If you just set extra 20 minutes or an hour every day, you will arrive your goal much faster than others. And for the remaining time till the deadline? Hone, iterate, refine, check, or proofread it again so you can deliver the best version of your work.
For me, since English is my second language, I always proofread my writing at least 3 times and practice my presentation at least 15 times before I ship it out. And although I know it’s still not perfect, I’m always glad that I have something to show to the world. That is why being not perfect is perfect because you get feedback earlier, and your works are more authentic.
4. Learn to Appreciate
Check off the goals that you set for yourself, successes and failures. Learn to appreciate the fact that you actually did something instead of nothing.
Every night I would reflect on my day, and reaffirm my goals for tomorrow. Occasionally I’ll regret or find things that I could’ve done better, but knowing that it’s impossible to go back and change always gives me calmness.
I learned to look for positivity instead of imperfectness.
One of the happiest things in life is knowing that you’re moving forward, toward completion and a direction that you are meant to go. It’s hard to completely get rid of perfectionism because we don’t want to be seen as dumb, unprofessional, or amateur. However, imperfection makes us human.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen
Are you ready to ship something out?