A spark is born. You get inspired by a great idea or purpose and want to move full steam ahead. You’re excited, energized, and pumped. You want to share the idea with anyone who will listen, so you run to the first person you can think of and share your brilliant game-changing idea. You pause waiting for them to compliment your brilliance, clap their hands and break into a happy dance with you. Instead they begin asking questions. How will you? When will you? Why would you? And the doubt kicks in. Should I? How can I? Why would I?
Doubt is planted.
The next thing you know, your vision is stuffed inside your desk drawer along with a million other post-it note ideas tucked away for a rainy day. As you open the drawer the excitement you once felt hits you, closely followed by sadness. Sadness that you haven’t moved forward with your idea. Sadness at the loss of something you never even had.
Many things can get in the way of a good dream, but you shouldn’t be one of them. Do you worry and stew over a project, becoming paralyzed by fear because of what it might not be? Fear of what it lacks, fear it won’t be just right?
Do you stop dead in your tracks because done is not good enough? You never take that first step or maybe stop part way because you fear it will lack perfection? Welcome. You’re a member of the perfectionists club. Maybe you’ve been with us for quite some time, maybe you’ve just now realized what’s holding you back. Bottom line, perfectionism is a dream killer.
Getting Started is the First Step
Often when I’m struck by an idea, I get excited about the vision, about the big picture, yet the longer I begin to dig into the idea, the more overwhelmed I become. One, because reality is often restrictive of my vision, so right off the bat I have to compromise. Two, once I begin to get specific about my vision, all the work and the steps to get there begin to feel like too much. The road just got longer and more treacherous. I hear thoughts like, “it’s too hard” and “there’s no way,” and I’m defeated before I’ve even begun.
The only way to get there is to get going. Whether it’s calling a meeting, writing an outline, writing a blog post, making a workflow diagram, a bunch of sticky-notes on the wall. Whatever is your first step, take it. Place all your focus for the moment on that one step. Complete that first step, then place a checkmark in that box. Bam! Just like that, you’ve accomplished something. Ah the sweet feeling of accomplishment. I’m a checkmarks person. I love placing checkmarks in those completed boxes. It reminds me I’m still making progress since I tend to wish I could move like the hare rather than the tortoise. After completing a step, take a glance at the big picture again to see what’s next, then focus in on that.
Reevaluate Your Excuses
It’s way too easy to make excuses against doing a thing. Instead, shift your focus to make excuses FOR the thing. We’ve all said things like, “I’ll just check a few emails first” or “I’m not quite ready yet” or “I’ve got so many other things I need to do first.”
Take a few moments to write down your list of excuses for doing the thing. Your focus will shift to why for instead of why not, and you’ll remember why the idea excited you in the first place. Keep these excuses handy so you can reference them whenever the why nots creep up. As you think of additional reasons for, add those to the list.
Check Your Priorities
Similarly to excuses against doing something, take a hard look at your priorities. What is most important to you? Sure we all have things we need to do, but how important are they? Emails will always flow in, but you’ve got to choose time to work on your goals.
As a stay-at-home mother, for example, my number one priority is to ensure my children are fed and safe. There are many other things I could make a priority instead of writing this post. Right now, the floors need vacuumed and mopped, there’s a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen, vegetables need picking from the garden, the interior of our family vehicle has got into a frightful state, and oh yeah laundry. There’s a never-ending list of tasks I can choose to do any time. I cannot, however, easily schedule uninterrupted quiet time with my computer. Priorities.
Stop and think about the difference between busy work and steps toward your goals. Even if it’s very small steps, that’s okay.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Something
I let the fear that something has to be perfect stop be from writing the first sentence, taking the first step. Fearing I must have the perfect plan, the perfect structure, the perfect outline, the perfect result.
Perfectionism is a dream killer.
Can we all come back down to reality? You won’t perfectly execute your project, dream, vision! We are human beings, and perfection is impossible. Don’t allow fear of the imperfect to stop you. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, remember this:
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to make a difference.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be better than it was before.
However, if you don’t move forward, it’ll never be anything. So, go on. Begin. What are you waiting for?
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Copyright © 2017 Katherine J. Wheeler. All rights reserved.