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Taking Imperfect Action

Words IMPERFECTIONAre you an action taker? Actually we are all action takers; what makes us different is when we take action. Do you take action when everything is perfect or do you take action even when it’s not? I know lots of people who wait for everything to be perfect. The website must be perfect before we announce we’re in business. The pattern covers must be perfect before we market the designs. Even as I was writing this, I got a call from a colleague who was asking about a program I was offering. She thought she wanted to offer something similar and had some questions. When I asked when she was planning to make the program available, she sidestepped the question because it wasn’t perfect yet. Perfectionism has its good points. It can also become a dead end.  Here are some things it can lead to:

1. Procrastination and/or indecision. If you need everything to be perfect, you wait for the best solution or the right time. You don’t want to miss it, so you wait and wait.

2. Missing the big picture because you are focusing on the details. It’s like missing the forest for all the trees.

3. Loss of creativity. I think this one is tied into procrastination, because you want perfect results so you put it off. You don’t have “failed creative efforts.” And, of course if you did, they could lead to growth. (Ironically, growth is one of the reasons people want to be perfect.)

4. Perfectionism in the extreme can lead to depression and alienation of relationships.

So how do you work on taking imperfect action? Here are some tips to try:

1. Be aware of why you are a perfectionist and recognize when it rears its head. Know whether it’s good perfectionism or obsessive perfectionism. I think that’s often half the battle.

2. Ask yourself, “What will happen if it’s not perfect?” or even, “What will happen if I don’t have to do it perfectly?”

3. Aim for good enough. I have two signs in my office. One says “Good enough is good enough.” The other says, “Progress, not perfection.” It’s not license to slack off, it’s license to finish.

4. Look at the big picture, i.e., look at the forest not the trees. Prioritize to figure out if all the trees, aka tasks, are necessary to fill in the big picture. If not, get rid of that tree.

5. Learn how to delegate. Once you do this and begin to have faith in other people’s abilities, it becomes easier to delegate. You don’t have to do it all to be perfect. And, it may not be perfect to your way of thinking, but it will be done.

6. Just once, set a goal to do something poorly. What a concept! This is really freeing. Imagine being perfectly imperfect!

7. Celebrate. My clients know I like to have a weekly Success and Strategies Summit. If you’ve managed to let go of some of your perfectionist tendencies, celebrate it as a success.

I love quotes and searched for the perfect (!) quote on perfectionism. In the end, I decided to share the words from one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, from her book Bird by Bird:

Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism,
while messes are the artist’s true friend.

So today or tomorrow, please take one imperfect action and share it below.

 

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Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription athttp://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

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8 Responses to “Taking Imperfect Action”


  1. Shelly Stokes said:

    I’ve been working really hard on the imperfection thing, Morna. And it’s paying off big time. In the past, I planned online classes and bailed out because things were not perfect. I pulled the plug instead of moving forward. At the moment, I am running my second online course — and I’m loving it.

    Rather than waiting until everything was perfect, I sold the course and then created the materials. In truth, I am only one step in front of my students. This week, I create the materials and videos for next week’s lesson. It’s far from perfect, but it’s working just fine. 🙂


  2. Morna said:

    Shelly, Love that the course is going well. Congrats to you and lucky for those students the course. I do like the build the plane while you are flying model (well, except for actual planes). We would never get off the ground if we waited for perfect. And, we always need reminders of this!


  3. Laura Estes said:

    Let’s do something, even if it is wrong, is a motto I picked up from my can do, getter done husband. Get the spelling correct and the facts checked, the rest we can sort out later. There are enough things you can’t control slowing you down, so don’t throw up your own road blocks. I live in the land of Good Enough.


  4. Morna said:

    Laura, exactly: get out of our own way! Love Pat’s influence.


  5. Jane Lovas said:

    Morna,

    I love this. Action is so important. This is relevant for everyone not just Quilters. 7 is so important – Celebrate your accomplishments (and even your trying.)

    -jane


  6. Morna said:

    One of my favorites – celebrate. Thanks Jane.


  7. Bunnie said:

    My students love it when I embrace my imperfection, they see that even I, the teacher, make “mistakes”.
    I do not point out the “mistakes” at the start to show my humility, but after they have seen and admired the finished project, to show that perfection is not required.
    Some things are worth fixing, some things take too much time for the results. I try to apply this in my life and business. Still working on my (im)perfection!


  8. Jessica Schick said:

    I live in the world of taking action, but also in the world where good enough is not good enough. Personally, I think the key is to decide what needs to be perfect, or as perfect as possible, & decide what doesn’t need to be perfect. I like to make my work as perfect as possible, other people rely on me to do that. But my dishes or laundry don’t need to be done before I can do my job perfectly. In other words, I think progress means knowing how to pick your battles. That can be true of work, passion, family, and just about anything in your life. My downfall in this is that I am not as good at delegating as I’d like to be because often times in the beginning of delegating you either end up doing the task over again, or you spend a lot of time teaching a task that you already know over & over again. But you really need to learn to get over that challenge in delegating in order to move onto the things that you are passionate about in your business. There are only so many hours in the day. In order to grow your business you can only do so much before you have to learn to delegate at least some of it.

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