Photo credit: Sarah Doody

10 Tips to Help You Stop Being Your Own Worst Client

How to get un-stuck and finally launch your own projects.

I used to be a huge perfectionist. Let’s be real, sometimes, I still am. And I’m guessing, maybe you are too.

Being a perfectionist resulted in not launching a ton of my ideas over the years. If I’d only launched __________ 3 years ago, where would I be now?

Finally last winter something clicked and I just started launching. I knew I had to get my ideas out into the world, test, tweak, and repeat. So, in the past 10 months I launched:

But here’s the thing, I talked about doing these things for years.

I remember telling people I was going to launch my own online courses three years ago. But I didn’t. I spent too much time over-thinking, criticizing, researching, and worrying about everything that could go wrong.

It’s crazy because this is exactly what I advise my clients NOT to do.

I’ve spent hours, probably days of my life explaining to people concepts such as:

  • Create the MVP first. Don’t try to launch with the big vision.
  • Don’t overthink it. Do research, arm yourself with insight, and act.
  • Launch and learn. Get the first version out, then test, tweak, and repeat.

Maybe it’s just me, but I firmly believe there’s something that happens when you try and work on your own ideas and products.

You are your own worst client.

You’re too close to the work. You’re self critical. You lack confidence. You don’t want anyone to see the work in progress.

You believe that someone will find you out. You’re 10 times harder on yourself than you are with other people.

If we’re honest, we probably all deal with this at some point in our careers and life. So what can you do?

You have to reframe your mind and treat your own projects like client projects.

You have to get out of your own head. You have to stop striving for perfection and instead make progress. You have to do whatever it takes stop all the negative talk and comparison.

Now, there’s no one-size fits all method to get out of your own head. The solution here is largely based on your own personality and what you respond to. So pick and choose whatever ideas may work best for you.

10 tips to help you stop being your own worst client:

  1. Establish a plan. Create an actual project plan with dates and goals.
  2. Make it a priority. Put time on your calendar for the specific things you have to do. Otherwise, you’ll likely always put everything else before your own projects.
  3. Get accountability. Tell someone about this plan and the key dates. Have them check in with you on those dates. Bonus if you schedule a meeting on your calendar so that you email that person and give them an update on a specific date.
  4. Be realistic. We all love to dream big. But ask yourself if your goals are realistic for the timeline you’ve established. In the same way that we don’t try to launch the full version of a product, figure out what smaller version of your project you can commit to.
  5. Reward yourself! Brainstorm rewards you’ll give yourself if you hit the dates or goals. Or, if you respond better to consequences, then do that.
  6. Allow yourself time to explore, but then cut it off. Don’t get into a vortex of inspiration. Yes, it’s necessary. But pursuing books, articles, podcasts, and other people’s work provides a false sense of progress. At some point, you have to get off the inspiration train and get to work.
  7. Stop depressing yourself with comparisons. Designers, if you’re working on your UX portfolio, stop visiting sites like Dribbble and Behance and Googling UX portfolios. You’ll end up in a spiral of self doubt and criticism. You know how sometimes you get twinges of jealously when you see other people’s Instagram lives? It’s the same thing. So stop it.
  8. Get feedback. The best work doesn’t normally come from one person, it comes from collaboration. Find ways to get feedback. Run ideas by other people. Be open to critique so that you don’t get crippled by your own overly critical analysis.
  9. Be objective. When we work on our own projects, it’s easy to get attached to them and thus, let emotion drive our decisions. Try to take emotion out of it by focusing on the facts. Where possible, rely on numbers and reality instead of your wishful version of a future reality.
  10. Don’t jump right into design. You wouldn’t jump right into design if it were a client project. So don’t do that for yours. Do some research, develop a strategy, and then design. Jumping right into design will result in wasting a ton of time focusing on details that don’t matter right now.

After you finally get out of your own head, you’ll have the focus, clarity, and momentum that will finally lead to getting stuff done.

You’ll be able to see things through a less emotional lens. You’ll be more strategic, less reactionary, and gain confidence that comes through each little win that you have as a result of finally doing.

Are you your own worst client? Is this preventing you from getting your ideas out into the world?

Then take the first step and leave a comment below to tell me which of the 10 tips you can implement today to help you finally get out of your own head.

What can you do to reframe your mindset and give your own ideas and attention and respect that you give to your clients?

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- Sarah Doody