I am a straight up perfectionist. A chronic starter of projects I don’t finish. I chase down a lot of ideas that never fully develop. I don’t know where I got this from, I think I’ve always had it in me since I was pretty young. Always distracted by some new shiny idea or thing. Always the one to get discouraged when things didn’t work out exactly as I wanted them to.
As a creative, this causes some issues. If you want to make art, you have to make art. If you want to get somewhere with an idea, you have to put in the work. I have started more projects than I care to admit. I’m primarily a writer, but I also love to design and take photos. I have started poems, stories, blogs, product designs, online courses, business ideas and more. A lot of them have never been completed to the point where they’re real things.
The Usual Process
Here’s what happens: I get an idea and I get pretty excited about it. The best part of any project for me is the brainstorming part. There are so many possibilities and so much potential! I’ll work out a plan for how to start making it a reality and set forth on my next big adventure. Usually this ends up being me collecting a bunch of resources and acquiring any necessary materials (in the case of my blog, it was about acquiring the domain name and hosting, etc.). I hate feeling unprepared so I’ll then spend a lot of time researching what needs to be done or the experiences of others that have done similar things. I’ve learned a lot about Photoshop, vintage typewriters, starting YouTube channels and drop shipping products among other things along the way. From there, I’ll make the obvious first steps (create the first couple blog posts, take the first lesson, write the first lines).
Here’s the problem: I get stuck somewhere in the process. Sometimes it’s because I encounter something I hadn’t anticipated. Sometimes it’s because I don’t know enough to complete a specific task. Other times it’s because I simply freeze. I let doubt creep in. The idea that was so perfect in my head now no longer seems possible. There’s some obstacle I need to get past. Usually that obstacle is my own expectations. If it can’t be perfect, what’s the point? It’s a hard mindset to get in as I go over and over the idea in my head, trying to find a way to solve the problem and restore the vision I began with.
This is usually the part where I get distracted by some new shiny idea because this new one seems so much easier and it’s so full of possibility and potential! It’s a problematic cycle for a lot of reasons. The most important is that I never finish things. I’m preventing myself from feeling the satisfaction of fully creating something and all the learning and growth that comes with that process. It’s also problematic because my own expectations are the real issue. Nothing is ever going to live up to that vision if I keep expecting it to be perfect every step of the way.
At the beginning of the year, I found a video talking about #finishednotperfect by Jake Parker.
To say it completely changed my perspective is an understatement. I didn’t realize how much I needed something to be perfect in order to finish it until watching that. Since then, I’ve been actively trying to finish things as opposed to making them perfect. The creator of the video has some pretty insightful things to say. He mentions the idea of growing and getting better at your craft by means of completing projects and it makes a lot of sense. You often learn more from your mistakes than you do from the things you were able to get right the first time.
My Game Plan for 2018
Set reasonable goals that are small enough to not be overwhelming and work at them until I finish them. That’s it. It won’t always be perfect or pretty. It won’t always turn out exactly how I want them to but I’m moving forward as opposed to taking the same 2 steps forward, 2 steps back routine I had been doing.
A lot of it has about forgiving myself too. Forgiving myself for the days I don’t get work done or the times where I just can’t do something the way I want to. Accepting and embracing where I am on my journey is the only way I can make the necessary steps to getting to where I want to be.
The result? It’s still pretty early in the year but so far, I’ve stuck with a fitness plan for an entire month. I’m now working in the middle of training for a 5k run and I’m about to launch a clothing business as a side hustle. None of those things have been perfect but you better believe they’re going to get finished!
Do you relate to any of this? How can you incorporate #finishednotperfect into your life to work towards your goals?