Hello. I’m Ali Davies. I’m a recovering Perfectionist. There. I’ve said it. I share this with you because the quest for perfection gets in the way of progress for many people. It can stop you moving forward and achieving results in all sorts of ways in all areas of your life and work. And if you are getting in your own way of moving forward, then that’s a problem.

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The Beauty of Imperfect Action

The Beauty of Imperfect ActionHello. I’m Ali Davies. I’m a recovering Perfectionist.

There. I’ve said it.

I share this with you because the quest for perfection gets in the way of progress for many people.

It can stop you moving forward and achieving results in all sorts of ways in all areas of your life and work.

And if you are getting in your own way of moving forward, then that’s a problem.

Years ago I got caught up with striving for perfection with all sorts of things. I realised that it was stopping me from moving forward. Trying to get everything perfect before moving forward was keeping me stuck.

Finally, I realised two very important things:

Perfectionism doesn’t equal results.

and

The pursuit of progress trumps the pursuit of perfection.

Once I really got both of those things, it was liberating. Things happened faster. Results came more easily. Things became more fun.

The focus on progress replaced the focus on things being perfect.Taking imperfect action became part of my strategy, life and work.

The Beauty of Imperfect Action

Here is the absolute beauty of taking imperfect action:

It moves things forward. It gets results. It frees up time. It feels liberating. It reduces stress. I could go on and on about the benefits.

And that is why, if you are a raging perfectionist, I invite you to replace the focus on perfection with a focus on progress.

Embrace taking imperfect action. You won’t regret it.

Are you a recovering perfectionist? Is this something you struggle with? Please share your experiences on this subject in the comments below.

Download a free self-assessment workbook and practical guide to get better results with any goal.

  • Hi Ali, Big round of applause for the clarion call. Seems to me that prototyping is way to release ourselves from perfection as, by definition, they are not perfect and what I have found is that what I don’t think is perfect or not quite good enough almost always is good enough for most other people and, if not, then because you have told them it is a prototype then they offer great feedback.

    Adrian

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  • Judy

    Me too. We were talking about this over the weekend on Daniel Priestley’s Key Person Of Influence programme. Once it’s out there, whatever it is, you will get feedback and can start improving it. If it’s still in your head or in draft form, it has no life. Nobody else knows what your ‘perfect’ vision is, anyway!

  • Hi Adrian, I think tailoring expectations in advance, especially our own with our own stuff, is important to avoid the perfectionist trap.

  • Hi Judy, thanks for your comment. It is a great reminder that everything is a “work in progress”, including ourselves!!!

  • Brilliant reminder, Ali. Thank you! Let’s face it, we’ve all been beta testing Microsoft products for donkeys years, so Adrian’s point about prototyping and requesting feedback is indeed a sound one…. and more open and honest than simply releasing a ‘product’, ‘bugs’ an’ all:-)

    Somewhat tangential, but I personally got freed up around perfectionism when I lived in Greece and decided to study the language. This meant not only reading and writing but speaking, of course, so I couldn’t hide! Once I made up my mind that it was OK to make mistakes, I had so much more fun with it, and enjoyed being corrected by the locals too.

    I’ve since taken this into other areas of my life and work, and as you say it’s liberating.

    Best wishes

    Lynda

  • Hi Lynda,

    You make a very important point – it is OK to make mistakes. In fact, making mistakes is part of what leads to success.

    Thanks for sharing your Greece experience and reminding us that not being “perfect” can be a whole load of fun.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Over the years, I’ve seen many successful attempts to tackle this topic, but none so effectively and succinctly written as this post. Very impressive!

    In the software development world (and other professions), those that fail to understand this concept are doomed to chronic under-performance.

    Thank you!

  • Rick

    Thank you so much for your very kind comment.

    Many years ago I worked in the IT sector so can relate to what you are talking about. Many people don’t see the link between perfectionism and lack of results so, as you point out, are doomed to chronic under performance – not only in their business but also all other areas of their life too.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • I am most definitely a recovering perfectionist… when it comes to work anyway! Working on applying the same imperfect attitude I apply to housekeeping 🙂

  • Tina, I can highly recommend imperfect action in relation to housekeeping!!!!

  • Heather, like your mantra. I have found applying the everything is a “work in progress” mindset to my own business means that I experiment more and as a result more creative ideas and solutions surface, Perfectionism holds that sort of possibility back.

    The phrase you use “let go of perfection” is spot on. Just making that decision feels really liberating.

  • Heather

    I love that everything is a “work in progress” and I love what Judy says about no one else knowing what you ‘perfect’ vision is. I’ve learnt to let go of perfection. As you say Ali, we can strive for it but add no more value. My mantra now is “Good Enough ~ is Good Enough!” xx

  • Lynda, it is easy to get paralysed by many things – perfection, fear, over analysis etc. Recognising we are allowing these things to get in the way is the first step to change. And as you point out, dealing with this feels very liberating.

  • Lynda

    Great post Ali – the phrase “paralysed by perfection” springs to mind. I’ve been this way myself in the past and seen it in others. It’s so very liberating when you realise that good enough is okay!

  • Sharon

    Ali, can’t believe how timely this post is for me. Here I am joining you in the therapy session to ditch the perfection. This is the very short version of my story – I have been attempting to get a blog site up now for over a year. What’s held me back is little old me, yip that perfectionist – never happy with what I’ve written, never happy with the pic of me, the video blog I keep trashing…… get the story. Now I am in the ‘good is good enough camp’ and I am about to launch the weblog – about time my family keep saying. So I got some things in the bag this week and they are off to the web developer to put the final touches. I feel great this weekend, I know it’s not perfect but that’s okay. As I am saying this I am taking a big sigh and letting the air out of the bag. It feels great 🙂

  • Sharon
    I can so relate to your situation. I only started blogging 11 months ago. I so wanting things to be “right” from the start. But I learnt it actually evolves as you go. Online stuff is never “done”. There is always another phase to develop, new stuff to add on and so on.

    I guess you could liken getting started in blogging to having a baby – can be painful to give birth too and it and it’s needs will change as it moves from infancy towards maturity. And like parenting, you very much have to learn as you go along.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Do let me know when your blog goes live. Would love to have a look. Good luck and have fun with it.

  • Ali, thank you, thank you for this post! It is indeed freeing. I think for me this is an ongoing battle. I get it some of the times–other times I don’t. Right now I’m working toward a launch deadline and when I don’t get done what I’ve set out for myself in the time I’ve allotted–I can get really bummed and a little panicky. Better to enjoy the creative process and just keep moving straightly forward!

  • Cris, delighted you enjoyed the post.

    Monitoring if our actions are keeping us moving forward or holding us back can be a good indicator of our perfectionist tendancies kicking in. Measuring this regularly can help keep them in check.

    Good luck with your launch.

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  • Haralee

    Good for you to recognize your trait. I am not a perfectionist but have had coworkers that were and it can be very exasperating! Projects have deadlines.I have been the boss of perfectionists and in my experience that is not easy either with out becoming a hard ass .

  • Really interesting to read your perspective of working with perfectionists. I have found addressing this has been so liberating in so many ways and on so many different levels.

  • I love this post! Better to have imperfect action than perfect inaction. Giving up the idea of perfectionism is liberating. Kudos to you for realizing this, as many never do.

  • Thanks Kelly. Love that phrase you said “Better to have imperfect action than perfect inaction” – well said!

  • I went down the perfectionist path for too long. It incapacitated me for a long time. I wanted to be perfect but I knew there was no perfect, so I just couldn’t move… When I started blogging I made the conscious effort to absolutely drop the notion of perfect. It was just not going to happen because I had too much to learn. It worked and I learned so much by saying to to perfectionism. I’m in recovery! Isn’t there a saying, “the perfect is the tyranny of the good”?

    Anita

  • Thank you for sharing your story Anita. Always interesting to hear other people’s experiences. Glad you found a way to get to grips with it when you started blogging.