Overcoming Perfection Paralysis

“I’ll clean the garage [office, backyard, attic, etc.] when I can afford to buy bins [rent a dumpster, the weather gets better, when I can take a few days off, etc.]”

“I spend all day on my computer, I don’t have the energy to spend extra time [clearing my inbox, filing electronic files, writing a newsletter, doing social media…]”

“If I can’t do it right the first time, why bother starting?”

Do any of these sound familiar?

Cassandra Aarssen, with Clutterbug, calls this an “All or Nothing” mindset.  

I call it Perfection Paralysis.

If you keep putting things off until you can do them perfectly, they never get done. It’s true.  

There is never a perfect time

You will never have the energy

Life will always get in the way

When I first started writing, I would often get stuck on the right words to set the scene or describe a character. If I wasn’t writing the perfect sentence, I wouldn’t write any sentences. 

I started to feel bad about myself because I wanted to write. I had the ideas but my perfection got in the way of getting my thoughts down on paper. Over time, my head got cluttered with all the scenes I wanted to share. Every day I didn’t write, the negative voices grew louder telling me I would never be a writer. 

Toxicity builds the longer we don’t take action. The longer we stay stuck, the further and further we push out our goals, the less likely we are to accomplish them at all.

How do you overcome perfection paralysis?

You can’t edit a blank page.“

– Robyn Carr

While this quote is meant for writers, the message is the same for any kind of perfection paralysis. To get out of my writer’s slump, I knew I had to write. So I signed up for a competition called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The premise of the competition is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a competition with yourself. 

The only way to win is to get the words down on paper. You have this major goal and there are built-in steps – 1667 words per day for 30 days. The natural consequence is that if you don’t meet your word count each day, the words pile up until it’s too many to do in one day. 

The beauty of the competition was it got me out of my head. The words didn’t need to be perfect, they just had to be on paper. I gave myself permission to turn off my internal editor and just write. 

Embrace good enough.”

-Cassandra Aarssen

When you’re battling perfection paralysis, getting started with little things is the best way to break the hold. NaNoWriMo allowed me to let go of perfection and embrace good enough.

When it comes to big projects, many people have a tendency to get overloaded by the size and scope. It doesn’t matter if they’re decluttering a room or starting a new business program. Procrastination sets in because the goal of wanting to do something perfectly freezes us in place.

Like getting words on the page, you have to start somewhere.  

Here are three tips to overcoming perfection paralysis:

  1. Break the project down into its smallest steps: Write down each step you can think of to complete the project. Knowing these steps and seeing them written down means each day you can tackle one piece at a time. 
  2. Prioritize time to work on your project: Often we talk ourselves into putting less important things first, thinking if we just get those done, we’ll have more time to focus on our important things. Only this is how we run out of time and energy. Schedule out time every day or week to work on your project. Instead of worrying about getting the whole project done in your time frame, focus on getting one step completed. Baby steps go a long way to BIG WINS.
  3. Create accountability for yourself: Set a day and time that you’ll focus on your project. Set a boundary with family and friends not to disturb you during this time. Turn off your phone and notifications. Ask friends to call you out if they see you on social media when you should be working on your project. Join an accountability group or pair up with someone to work side by side. During NaNoWriMo, I had friends also doing the challenge and we had fun internal competitions and writing days to hold each other accountable to write. 

If you feel like you’re stuck in perfection paralysis, I can help!

Join my 6-week free accountability group- Working Thursdays. Click here for more details. We started today, Thursday, March 24th, but there is still time to join. 

Week 1- we set up our plan. Register for the group, then reach out to me to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to create your plan*. Then during weeks 2-5, work your plan!

What ways have you overcome perfection paralysis?  Leave me a comment below.


*Must be registered for Working Thursdays.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: