Do you ever feel like a slave to perfectionism in your business? Constantly wasting time trying to perfect every minor detail and mistake? You’re not the only one. Many people set impossible standards for themselves, standards that were initially set with positive intentions however are now proving to be real hard work.
The answer to overcoming perfectionism in business is to realise that good content that’s published will always outperform ‘perfect’ content that’s still in draft. You simply have to let go and understand that there is no such thing as a perfect blog article, social media post or YouTube video, so stop trying to chase after something that simply doesn’t exist.
Your perfectionism is based on the perception that people will heavily criticise you for your (small) mistakes, and that somehow your reputation will be shattered if your latest work isn’t up to the high-bar that you’ve set for yourself. This is just your mind playing horrible tricks on you.
NOTE: In this post I will refer to writing blog articles or social media posts, however the same ideas and strategies will apply to various aspects of your perfectionism and business.
What is perfectionism?
Being a perfectionist means that you constantly set yourself a high, if not impossible standard for everything that you do. It’s a one way ticket to depression & anxiety because you never end up meeting those standards that you’ve set for yourself, leading you to a life of unhappiness and fulfilment.
Perfectionism can arise in all aspects of life, from spending hours tweaking your social media posts to severe eating disorders chasing that ‘perfect’ body. In any event, it can cause a lot of discomfort and in most (but not all) cases it’s considered to be a negative characteristic to have.
Why am I a perfectionist?
The main reason why you might be a perfectionist is because you suck at dealing with failure. You see, failure is a necessary part of life. It’s an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and develop as a person, without failure or mistakes there is no room for improvement. In the eyes of a perfectionist.
The reason why we might suck at failing is because we fear being judged by others, thus all of our actions are safeguarded with the intent to avoid criticism at all costs. That’s why perfectionists will spend an extended period of time focusing on insignificant tasks as to ensure that it’s absolutely perfect and can not possibly be criticised. To a perfectionist, failure can be something as insignificant as a small spelling mistake.
Why perfectionism is (mostly) bad
As we get towards the final stage of putting ourselves out there, whether it be by releasing a blog post, uploading a video or starting a business, we naturally start to become anxious with the fear that we might have forgotten something or messed up somewhere along the line. In thinking this way a perfectionist will hold off on launching their post or business, and instead spend hours scouring through every fine detail in a last-ditch attempt to eradicate any mistakes.
The perfectionist will waste an incredible amount of time in doing this, time that could be better spent elsewhere, and eventually they might even hold off launching altogether. They never end up posting that article or video, and they never start that business. By the time they get their act together it’s probably too late. Had they just taken the leap in the first instance they would have realised that their anxieties were doing them a huge disservice.
How to overcome perfectionism in business
Sometimes just admitting the fact that you’re being a perfectionist is all it takes. Opening up to the fact that you’re committing the very crime that you know is eating away at your business profits – can be the first step of tackling perfectionism. Once you’ve admitted your wrong-doing you can consider whether to carry on (wasting your time) or invest your skills elsewhere.
Here are a few ways that you can help reduce your perfectionist tendencies over time…
Give yourself a break
Let’s admit it. The reason why we fuss over tiny details and mistakes is because we fear being criticised, by others and ourselves. Sometimes we need to recognise that we’re being too harsh on ourselves and instead learn to be more lenient. You’re only human after all, you’re going to make mistakes.
The way I see it, if you’re not going to care about a mistake you’ve recently made in five years time – then it’s not worth worrying about right now. Sure, if its a glaringly obvious mistake that can be avoided then correct it, but don’t live the life of an insomniac – searching for every possible slip-up that you may or may not have made.
Truth be told, most people don’t actually give a shit about what you have to say, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. They’ve got their own lives and problems to be focusing on. So be relieved that nobody cares whether you wrote “there” instead of “their” in your social media post. Take it as an opportunity to be remove the pressure from your shoulders and start helping others – without the fear of being criticised.
Focus on what matters
It can be too easy to spend hours, if not days or weeks on designing your logo, website, social media page, blog post images etc etc… but in reality, none of that stuff is paying the bills. Don’t get me wrong, a website will help you but only if you spend time talking to clients and advertising your product or service, otherwise your business is going to fail.
I’ve grown up with that perfectionist mentality myself. Living with a lingering fear of being judged by others, I couldn’t allow for any mistakes. In hindsight I really wasted a lot of my life thinking that way.
Even more recently when I started blogging, I invested hours into creating blog-specific images to make my posts more aesthetically pleasing. After a while I realised that I was spending more time on the images than I was for the content itself! That’s why if you notice now, I no longer add images to my posts – other than the template Pinterest & Featured images.
Ever since I stopped doing that, my productivity has gone through the roof. I’m now pumping out a new blog post almost every other day! Why? Because i’m no longer wasting my time on pointless shit. That’s what perfectionism does to you in business. Being a perfectionist robs you of the opportunity of succeeding in life because you’re spending your valuable time on things that really don’t matter.
Change your focus
Don’t aim to be perfect, aim to improve. Perfect doesn’t exist, so why aim for it? Your challenge should be to improve on your last piece of content, in doing so you’ll forever be on your toes, figuring out how to be bigger & better each and every time you write a post, record a video or release a podcast interview.
Making mistakes is a vital part of the learning process. Without mistakes or failures you’ll never learn how to improve in the future. So by being a perfectionist you’re effectively robbing yourself of the opportunity of growing as an individual. Be comfortable in putting yourself out there, the more you do so then the more you’ll learn about what works or what doesn’t.
It’s also worth nothing that quantity is just as important as quality. There is no single blog post that will just suddenly go viral without the addition of dozens of other posts to go with it. Once you start to consider the quantity of content needed to succeed, you’ll start to spend less time on singular items.
Launch it now, improve it later
As you grow older, your views on business and life in general will likely change. As you take in new information, meet new people and experience new things you’re understanding of the world will be altered, so it’s only natural that what you write today will be irrelevant tomorrow – and that’s fine! You’re allowed to change your mind. In the cases of writing blog posts, you can always go back and update the content to reflect your new found beliefs and understandings, in fact that’s good for SEO anyway 😉
Give yourself strict deadlines to follow when working on specific tasks. Planning will help you to accomplish tasks within a reasonable time, without spending endless hours on things that really don’t matter.
So your post isn’t perfect? Tough, the deadline has passed. Post it. The purpose of this is to shake that ‘all or nothing’ mentality and to gradually start accepting that good – is good. I’ll say it again… Good content that’s published will always outperform ‘perfect’ content that’s still in draft.
As a perfectionist you may be putting a surreal amount of pressure on yourself, in cases like these it might be best practice to outsource work to other professionals. In doing so, this allows you to focus on other aspects of the business and thus saving yourself a headache.
Although it might seem like an easy task delegating work to others, you might find yourself becoming a difficult client due to your perfectionism. Reason being that you mind end up being really picky when it comes to reviewing their initial ideas or even the final draft, in order to get the best possible results when outsourcing work you need to be open-minded.
No matter how clear you are when pitching your ideas, the final product [from someone else] is never going to be exact to what you had pictured in your mind – and that’s okay – because you know what? You’re not always right. Sometimes other people have better ideas and you have to learn to be okay with that. Be thankful that someone’s saved you the day, week or month it would have taken you to do the job yourself!
Hire a business coach
Sometimes you need to be held accountable for your actions, without that level of focus many people tend to procrastinate and spend time on unnecessary tasks. By hiring a (business) coach you can work towards clear deadlines, on a micro & macro-level.
If you’ve been struggling to focus or acquire clients, I’d be happy to help you. I can provide you with a clear strategy that we can work towards, based on your business wants & needs. Feel free to contact me here for a free consultation.
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, but it does become a problem when you let these standards control you or freeze you into paralysis. Perfectionism is a mental issue that affects a lot of people in business. It can be improved by acknowledging the issue, changing your focus and outsourcing – potentially to a business coach that can keep you accountable.