Working for yourself can be really satisfying.
You get to be independent, set your own hours, and work from wherever you want — all you need is your laptop and a stable internet connection.
Still, with this wonderful freedom comes a new list of responsibilities.
At the top of that list?
Getting. Sh¤%. Done.
Consistently. On your own.
The Dangers Of Comfort
When you’re working on your own, there’s no boss hanging over you throughout the day, making sure you’re doing your job.
While this is definitely liberating, it can also lessen the pressure you feel when it comes to productivity — and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
In fact, if you slack too much, especially at the beginning, you could lose out on a lot of early profit — or even worse, your business could crumble altogether.
So, how do we avoid this?
How do you make sure your business is growing at an optimal speed?
Well, one of the worst offenders when it comes to slow progression is the infamous “perfection paralysis”, also known as “analysis paralysis”.
In this article, we’ll explore exactly what this is, why it happens, and how you can beat it (or at least, greatly reduce its effects).
Let’s get into it.
How Perfectionism Can Kill Your Business
Even with effective strategies in place, and a huge amount of willpower, it’s not always easy to accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
There can be many reasons for this, depending on the person.
Perhaps the most common is that you find yourself plagued by some form of perfectionist ideal.
Even if you don’t label yourself as a perfectionist, this is most likely affecting you — and delaying your success — more than you realize.
You may find yourself overthinking the way your work is created, presented, planned, and/or marketed.
And this wastes precious time — a lot of it.
Over-analyzing can make it difficult to get a process started, much less completed.
Common Symptoms Of Perfection Paralysis
Take a moment to consider the ways that you approach the start and completion of a new project.
• Do you often find yourself second-guessing your progress?
• Do you find yourself starting over more than once, because you question the way you began in the first place?
• Or maybe the idea of “I could do better” haunts you so much that you never actually get started at all?
Approaching a project this way eliminates the benefits of momentum you would otherwise receive, if you could just take on your task with the full force of confidence.
You may think that your careful consideration of every tiny detail will benefit you in the long run, making your project the best it can be.
However, you might be overlooking one vital detail…
Your project can’t be the best that it could be if it’s never finished!
With this in mind, you can easily see how perfection paralysis can actually end up killing a business (it wouldn’t be the first time).
A Winner’s Perspective
When you find yourself caught up in the details, struggling to get started, it’s important to take a step back and look at the situation as a whole.
Once you realize that it’s overthinking that’s slowing you down, you know exactly what the enemy is — what you should aim to overcome.
It can be scary to even think about fixing the problem of perfectionist paralysis.
After all, isn’t habitual overthinking, and the anxiety that comes with it, a challenge that takes some people weeks, months, or even years to overcome?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t have that much time to waste.
You’d rather get your business sorted out in an efficient manner, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in other parts of your life.
Reframing For Success
So, what do we do about it?
How do we adjust our minds and get things moving faster?
Well, it turns out that you can beat perfection paralysis with a simple mental reframing.
And once it’s done, it’s done!
Here it is:
In your mental list of priorities, take the word “action” and place it one level above the word “planning”.
That’s it — that’s the mental reframe.
Keep imagining this every time you start a new project, and eventually it will become second nature.
Here’s another great mental tool, in the form of a quote, you can add on top of it:
“Imperfect action beats perfect inaction, every day of the week”.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Burn it into your mind so it stays there, and eventually it will manifest itself in your work.
What Happens When You Focus On Action
Instead of putting so much value on planning out the details, you’ll be creating rougher outlines, and getting things done much quicker.
When faced with a new undertaking, you’ll remind yourself that all you have to do is to simply begin (if you’ve already begun, keep working).
That’s all there is to it, really.
Even if it’s not an easy thing to achieve for everyone, it’s certainly simple.
Thinking this way will double, triple or even quadruple your overall productivity, depending on how bad your struggles were previously.
Times They Are A Changin’
Sometimes, you may be concerned about the quality of your product.
Other times, you may fear that it’s not going in the direction that you want it to.
However, there’s something important you have to realize:
It matters less what direction you aim for in the beginning, than the direction you hope to achieve in the end.
Let me explain:
As human beings, we’re always changing and evolving, influenced heavily by daily happenings and our own development as individuals.
The more we are exposed to the world around us, the more our ideas will change and grow.
Chances are that, as you near the end of whatever you are working on, you’ll be a different person than you were when you began.
Taking this into consideration, it becomes clear that your pre-project worries about the end result will likely be unwarranted.
Ultimately, it would be nothing more than a waste of time.
Recognizing this will make it easier for you to propel onward, maximizing your output and generating the results you always knew you could achieve.
When In Doubt – Remember This
Still find yourself stuck, and reluctant to plow forward without the “perfect” game plan?
Still not convinced about valuing action above all?
If so, here’s one more thing to consider:
Once you’ve completed a task, you have a finished product.
No matter what state this product is in, it’s something that you are likely to edit or change in some way or another before declaring its final form.
No matter if you conceived an idea and waited two months to begin your work, or if you waited two seconds, there’s still an editing process to go through!
Remember, this is exactly why the editing process exists in the first place.
Editing can make whatever you have a little bit better, and the extent to which you change your product is entirely up to you.
This can be comforting to reflect upon while you’re working — if you’re feeling insecure about the quality of your product, or the direction in which you are heading.
Whenever the concept of perfectionism plagues you, remember that the editing process exists for a reason.
It’s much better to have a completed product that you can tweak, than to have a carefully-planned, unfinished one that creates zero value for your business.
Working With Time
If all else fails, and you still can’t seem to get started, even with the reassurance of the editing process, I have one last tip for you.
Instead of aligning your goals with the completion of itemized tasks, try assigning yourself time-based goals instead.
Rather than telling yourself you must complete a certain volume of work, set a reasonable time limit, and simply work continuously until it’s reached.
Working like this ensures that you will make progress, even if you feel so stuck that you otherwise would have done nothing but stare at your screen or paper.
Working through these moments of uncertainty can be uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re actually a full-blown perfectionist.
Just remember that the work you’re doing is better than doing no work at all.
More often than not, we are our own harshest critics, for better or worse.
Learning to shut down that part of your mind, and focus on the task at hand, is necessary in order to defeat paralysis through analysis.
A thriving business doesn’t require total perfection.
However, it does require action — and lots of it.
“Imperfect action beats perfect inaction, every day of the week”.
Keep that in mind, and you’ll boost your productivity and, in turn, the growth of your business in no time.
• Perfection paralysis negatively affects your business by decreasing your output.
• Get things moving mentally by prioritizing action above planning.
• Don’t get too attached to a specific outcome. Times change; your project may have to be tweaked along the way to suit new circumstances.
• Don’t get too caught up in the details when you’re starting out. There will always be time to edit your work later.
• When you’re feeling overwhelmed by a huge to-do list, change your methods for a while — work in purely time-based increments instead.