Perfectionism is a goal that, though admirable, is unattainable. And when you run your own business, striving for perfection can actually have a negative impact. Here’s how perfectionism can hold you back and some tips for getting past it.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. By nature I really like everything to be very organized, every ‘t’ crossed, ‘i’ dotted and everything to have my personal stamp on it. But I know in my past, my quest for perfection kept me from moving forward, so I’ve had to tame it. I also know it’s not an easy beast to tame but if you’re like me and can honestly acknowledge how much your desire for perfection is holding you back, it can often give you the motivation to just move forward and take action.
Perfectionism can have an especially strong impact on your success when you run your own business. A really important message I want to communicate is there’s really no such thing as perfect. So if you’re struggling to make it “just perfect” you’re directing your energy into something that’s impossible to achieve.
How much is your desire for perfection holding you back? I will share some of the ways trying to be perfect has slowed me down and more importantly what I did to get over it!
Perfectionism Leads to Procrastination.
I love what one of the women in my group coaching sessions said when we were discussing what holds us back from getting things done. She said, “Perfection is really just an excuse to procrastinate.”
By seeking the all-illusive goal of perfection, it’s really just an avoidance method and an opportunity to keep from moving. What I’ve learned serves me better is to take consistent imperfect action as I work towards my objective. If I keep moving forward, I get clarity along the way. If I focus on the minutiae of the details being perfect, I stop and waste precious time.
RELATED: 8 Ways to Stop Procrastination
Let me share with you a recent example…
This summer I piloted my coaching program to 10 women. When I reached out to invite these 10 women to join me, I knew what I wanted to teach them and I knew what I wanted their end results to be. That was 80% of the equation.
What I didn’t know was the other 20%. I didn’t know the exact details of what my handouts would be, or what exercises we’d do in class, or what my members’ area would look like. I didn’t have all the details mapped out perfectly but I trusted I’d figure them out before the class went live.
I tell this to you because in a past life I wouldn’t have sent the invitation out until every detail was figured out. Realistically for me that could have meant extra weeks and months noodling around details in my head. Wondering, wondering, wondering which is really a code word for procrastinating.
Who would have been served then if I’d have waited? Certainly not the women who got to take my class and get the learning and tools they got, and certainly not me who got invaluable feedback so I could take this program to a much larger audience.
By taking imperfect action, I took the leap of faith for myself, and just did it. That was huge for me. Hopefully in this situation I can be a model for you to just step out when you think you’re not perfect and just put it out there anyway. (FYI – I received so much positive feedback on this program it confirmed that I made the right decision.)
Perfectionism Stops You from Getting the Help You Need.
I think the other way perfectionism slows us down is we feel like we want to know it all (and should know it all). We think, “This is my business. Who knows it better than me?” The truth is, as experienced or knowledgeable as we might be, we don’t always have all the answers. Sometimes we need to reach out to somebody and admit in a vulnerable way, “I don’t know how to do this. Please help. Guide me.”
At times getting the help that you need in your business means letting go of some control. As you delegate to a virtual assistant, graphic designer or copywriter, it’s unlikely that they’re going to do it exactly the way you do. That’s a fact. What I realize is that delegating saves me so much time and energy. Maybe they did it 90% of how I would have done it and I had to tweak it 10% but it still dramatically increased my momentum.
So as a recovering perfectionist here are my lessons learned…
- I just work to take action, even if it’s imperfect action and just get my projects out there.
- I’m not afraid to ask for help. I’m comfortable admitting that I don’t know it all.
- I let go and instead of completely controlling all the details, I delegate to my team trusting that they’ll get it done. (and when we have mistakes, that’s what “oops” messages are for.)
Trust me, the satisfaction of getting it done (by letting go of your desire to be perfect) and getting your brilliance out into the world makes it worth the effort. You’ll free up your energy to tackle your big ideas and really get some momentum building in your business.
Kim Deyoung is founder of Metromom.com. Visit her website at