Here’s a recipe for a stressful workplace: pair a Perfectionist and a Finisher up daily, and then just sit back and watch the tension build. This was my life for three years.
The Finisher is prone to try and simplify tasks to complete the essence of the project, while the Perfectionist is all about adding levels of complexity to make things the very best they can be. I’m sure that the Perfectionist thinks their way is best, and the Finisher obviously thinks their way is best. Jon Acuff’s book, Finish, will tell you that you can’t be both. I was listening to this book on Audible as I was finishing my second children’s book, My Mom is the Worst.
Turns out I am a Finisher (which I could have already told you). I am not perfect, but my strength is that I am going to pick out the most critical parts of a project (those that will have the biggest impact), focus on that, and let the other pieces go, if needed.
In the last year I started (brainstormed, wrote, edited, hired illustrators, provided creative briefs, designed layouts) and finished (published and continue to promote) two children’s books. If I were a perfectionist there is no way I could have done that. The ideas would likely still be in my notebook, on draft 342.
Or if I were a highly motivated perfectionist, I may have made it though the initial draft, but be too scared to publish the work until I had a few more sets of eyes on it.
Here’s the funny thing. Let’s say that the book (or any project) technically makes it to perfect status in the creator’s mind. Guess what? Once it’s out there for the world to see, everyone is not going to agree that it is the cutest, most perfect, little baby they ever saw. **Except mine. I make pretty cute babies (and books).**
So if perfect is what you are going for, that feeling is going to be very short lived. Once other people start getting their hands on it, the (positive and negative) feedback will begin.
Don’t let perfectionism hold you back. Produce, adapt, and continue to create.
Speaking of feedback, since I already lean toward a Finisher mindset, every strategy in Jon’s book was not something mind-blowing and new. However, there were many points that I did connect with.
Here are my Top Eight Ways to Help You Get to Finished:
- Studies prove: the less you aim for perfection, the more productive you are.
- Perfection or finished, those are your two choices. Not perfection or failure.
- Say no to shame. Decide what you will bomb in advance. Then become confident in your decision.
- Winners quit stupid stuff all the time. Don’t continue something stupid out of a need for being perfect.
- What are your secret rules that hold you back? Define them so that you can work on them.
- For transparency and growth purposes, here are two of mine: 1. A fear of spending money on my business goals. I have seen friends and family members spend a lot of money on their businesses and still fail. How do I know if I am throwing money at something, or spending money wisely, to advance my business goals? Especially when it comes at a cost to my family. 2. How do I know which opportunities to turn down so that I spend my time most efficiently; holding out for the opportunities that will have the biggest impact?
- Borrow someone else’s diploma. Meaning borrow knowledge from others. You don’t have to know it all.
- You need to track data points to understand your progress. Benchmarks are important to understand if you are moving in the right direction to eventually reach your goals.
- We don’t ever age out of needing someone to believe in us.
Number eight is a favorite, and why I published my first book. I had written the book but didn’t intend to do anything significant with it (full story here). With just a bit of encouragement from my husband, I decided to take the next step in learning how to publish it. The actual action plan, and work involved, were on me. But because someone else believed in me, I believed in myself enough to start and finish.
I believe in you and your goals one hundred percent. Don’t let perfectionism kill you. Focus on the details that will get you to your goal, and let the rest go. You are going to crush it in 2018…or 2020…or 2030…whenever you are reading this. Wise advice never expires.