This site had many a name before I decided to go with my name. My wallet wasn’t happy with my indecisiveness as I bought domain name after domain name, each time thinking I had landed on *the* idea. My man, a king of acting swiftly did not understand my hesitation. I had 2 logos made for one of the potentials and I designed a site. I *almost* hit publish. And then I’d get cold feet. The search for perfection was killing any sort of progress.
The problem with starting something new, is that it involves the sneaky little word “starting”. This word, that so eloquently symbolizes diving into the unknowns, is often the most difficult obstacle we face on the road to any new project we dream up. Self doubt, self-induced anxiety, and feelings of overwhelm creep in and overtake what was previously (and still should be) excitement. The excuses we make to avoid getting started seem logical enough, but they hinder us from conveying, well, anything. From my experience, they’re usually excuses tied to perfection and they usually stem from the frenemy of getting started–fear.
Fear of what people will think, fear of seeming dumb, fear of not seeming perfect…
Fear = Distraction
Fear is our greatest distractor. Fear by itself is a distraction in its own right, but it’s an even greater demon because it masks itself in other distractions–choosing a domain name, perfecting the logo, choosing colors, finding the extra money, feeling like everything has to be perfect, feeling like you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.
When fear is running the show, we let each and every distraction permeate our field of focus before we’ve done one tiny task to help us get there. It’s called stalling… I know because I’ve been doing it for a year.
Sound familiar? All too familiar? Here are the 2 questions that finally helped me open the can of worms surrounding my fears so I could get started…
Who decides what perfect is? And when is perfect “done”?
Perfection is our greatest antagonist
As I opened up Instagram for the 3rd time in an hour, as I so often found myself doing, (yet another distraction), I was forced to think about our media-centric lives, how everything we see is refreshing continuously. Our digital world is constantly evolving. It changes shape on a daily basis, and we aren’t in control of what’s going to change. This is what led me to the question above.
As a millennial (who so millennial-like hates even using the term millennial), I can’t deny that we were taught to value perfection over failure. As a generation, this obsession with perfection has led us to avoid anything that could, even remotely, be seen as failure. But really, who decides what perfect is? And when is perfect “done”? The only logical answer I could come up with is this: Perfect is an illusion and there’s never an endpoint, it’s never done. If we value learning and self-betterment, our perceptions of perfection must constantly evolve, which really means the notion of perfection has been rendered obsolete. Perfect is nothing. It’s less than zero. It therefore, shouldn’t hold the power of being our greatest fear.
What has been holding you back? Are the list of things that just ran through your head, actually stopping you? Or is fear masking itself as all those little things? I’d be willing to bet it’s the latter. So throw out those excuses you’ve been collecting and get started. You don’t have to be perfect to be heard.
3 TIPS FOR GETTING UNSTUCK & GETTING STARTED
Ask yourself: What knowledge am I taking for granted?
If you’ve been stalling for a while chances are you’ve begun to forget why you’re really good at what you want to start. Or, you’ve talked yourself into thinking you’re not actually all that good at it or you aren’t the best person to be creating around whatever ‘it’ is. Stop doing that. If you, like me, think you need permission to be an expert on something you’re passionate about, stop doing that. There’s your permission. Instead, think about what knowledge you’re taking for granted.
What is the topic that is so easy for you to talk about that you instantly start rambling, get all giddy, and probably unintentionally become a bad listener out of sheer excitement that you get to talk about this topic? That’s what you should use to get started–write about that, create around that. Chances are, it will grow into many more ideas.
Stop putting every other task imaginable ahead of your goal.
Right behind getting caught up in perfection excuses, comes the time excuses. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re running around putting your clients first, the chores first, hell, even cleaning the toilet first and calling it ‘being selfless,’ you might be confusing self-inhibition with what it means to be selfless. Putting everyone else first isn’t being selfless if that’s what’s stopping you from chasing what you’re after.
Here’s why self-inhibition masked as “being selfless” is damaging:
Other people can’t support you if you don’t get started. And killer opportunities can’t present themselves until people see what you’re up to.
Build yourself into your priority list and stop stalling. We kicked the excuses to the curb, so stop letting distractions increase your opportunity cost.
Take a 10 day comparison break.
Most of us look at our social media feeds daily (read: multiple times an hour). And if you’re anything like me, when you’re trying to start a new project your feed viewing increases so you can see what other people are doing to get it right. It seems like a rather harmless idea, but it definitely isn’t. The more we look, the easier it is to feel like everything has to be perfect, like we aren’t good enough, like we’ll never look that put together. It increases our fears of needing to be perfect. But we threw perfection out the window, remember? The only advantage the other people have is that they’ve gotten started–they began the process of learning what works and what doesn’t. What you’re seeing on their feeds is the result of that.
Take 10 days and avoid looking at other people’s feeds so you can jam on your own. Lay out a plan of what you want to post for 10 days and see what happens as a result. Remember, it’s a process of evolution.
This isn’t first grade, you don’t need a permission slip to get started. You are your own permission. Grant yourself the permission to succeed and to fail. If you do that, nothing can stop you because you’ve squashed your greatest detractors–fear and perfection.
Here’s to getting started,
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.