How I Overcame Perfectionism
To start my own business, create a video with 40K views, and publish a book… and you can, too!
My name is Catherine and I’m a recovered perfectionist.
How did I go from anxiously reading and re-reading, thinking, re-thinking, and over-thinking everything to overcoming perfectionism?
It definitely wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that!
But as is true with most of life’s challenges, it was worth it.
Now, don’t get me wrong…
There are still days, like today, as I sit and write what I hope will be seen as a well-written and enjoyable piece, that I wish I would be more strict about how many times I’ll require myself to re-read this post before I hit submit.
And yes - today, I wish I had the courage to beg a million and one friends to edit this post for free to save me from any potential embarrassment should one find it on their own and gasp at my incompetency.
However, for the most part I finally feel free from my perfectionism, a trait I once considered to be one of my biggest strengths, but have grown to understand was really more of a fault once I graduated to the real world.
Because while reading and re-reading, thinking, re-thinking, and over- thinking things —
being a perfectionist — severed me well as a student,
some ten years ago, in the real world one misspelling doesn’t mean I can’t be successful.
If you’re still dealing with the crippling effects of perfectionism, many of which you likely also picked up in a different era, during your days as a student, I want you to know that you can overcome your perfectionist tendencies.
While I can’t speak for all recovered perfectionists, I can tell you what’s worked for me and I hope you’ll follow in my footsteps!
How did I stop being a perfectionist?
To stop being a perfectionist I had to start doing things.
I had to take action before I was ready.
Because while taking action before you are ready might not be a great idea in some situations — like when you’re about to jump out of a plane and you realize you forgot to pack your parachute - it’s the only way to accomplish anything that scares you.
And perfectionist or not, it’s the things that initially scare you that will bring you the most joy, if you actually DO them.
Kids, I’m not talking about the things that scare you that also put your life in serious danger or you’re tempted to do because all of your “cool” friends are doing them.
I’m talking about the things that scare you, that you REALLY want to do. The things that would be really cool and bring you more life, if you were to accomplish them.
Four years ago I had something BIG I really wanted to do.
It was something that I was terrified of, but not life-threatening. And if I could pull it off? Well, it might just be the most amazing thing I’d ever done.
What did I want to do? I wanted to start my own business.
At first, I agonized over EVERYthing.
I knew I needed a website, but all of the pictures had to be perfect first -right? Ditto for my website copy, my first blog post, any videos I wanted to create, my business cards…
The list of things I had to do and places I had to be perfect went on and on and, as those of you who have started a business know, it was overwhelming to say the least.
I was just starting my business.
I didn’t have any investors.
I couldn’t afford a fancy microphone, lighting, or a web designer, but how would anyone take me, my business, my website, or my business cards seriously without those things?
How could I have a successful business, if everything wasn’t perfect?
These thoughts seem laughable now.
While I didn’t notice this before I started my business, I’ve since picked up on an interesting fact. There many amazing businesses I know and love who don’t have perfect websites, grammar, or videos.
Now, is that an excuse not to be perfect or to try to put your best foot forward? Of course, not.
Would it be nice if my business website looked more perfect and professional than some of those that represent the successful businesses that I admire?
Given me an edge over my competitors?
But was it necessary or even possible to have everything perfect if I wanted to start my business anytime this century?
So I did the only thing left to do. I took action.
I created my first website, remnants of which can still be seen HERE where my blog, that now lives on my website (thank goodness!), was only viewable through blogspot (at the time, I had no idea how much of a faux pas this was).
I made my first video. It was horrible, but it was, afterall, my first video.
And you know what?
The world didn’t end!
I DID get customers.
While I was TERRIFIED of putting a video out into the world back then and still cringe every time I upload one I’ve created, I look at my YouTube channel and I have a video that has nearly 40,000 views.
If I had waited to make the perfect video on my perfect website with the perfect lighting and professional hair and makeup, that wouldn’t have happened.
For starters, I only met my favorite makeup artist a year ago.
Starting a business forced me to overcome my perfectionism.
But what if you don’t want to start a business?
You can still overcome your perfectionism.
All you need to do is consistently take action in areas where you are afraid to because you don’t believe your actions or the result will be perfect.
OK, maybe “all” you need to do…it isn’t easy, I know!
What have you always wanted to do, but let perfectionism keep you from trying?
Maybe you’ve always wanted to, but are afraid to write your first book.
That’s a scary venture! As a recently published author who now has several author friends, I now know that 99.99999% of authors have had to overcome perfectionism to get their stories out into the world.
In fact, perfectionism is one of the main things that keeps so many people from writing even one sentence of that great American novel they keep talking about!
Don’t have a great American novel in your head?
What IS something you can DO today that will take you closer towards a big, scary, but SUPER cool if you accomplished it dream?
Channel your inner Mary Schmich.
Because the company I started IS a fitness company and working on my own fitness goals has shown me that perfectionism doesn’t get you anywhere, action does, I’d also encourage you to set and work towards a fitness goal as part of your plan to move (literally) beyond perfectionism.
If that fails, you won’t. I’m willing to bet you’ll at least enjoy some added productivity.
A few super awesome ladies have DARED you to do try this. Check out a few dares and easy action steps in THIS excerpt from my book to get inspired.
Yes, this is the SAME book that I never would have published, if I’d stay dedicated to my perfectionistic ways. It’s also the same book that now has over 35 five star reviews on Amazon.
I’m my own boss (which is a good thing on MOST days), a published author, YouTube “star” (OK …for one video, but still…) all pretty cool things that I never would have been able to say, if I wasn’t willing to give up trying to be perfect.
So what are you waiting for?
Take the — literal — leap!
I look forward to hearing all the awesome things you accomplish when you stop being perfect and start DOing things, bravely. BEing YOU, awesomely.
Here’s to your unperfectly perfect success!
Catherine Basu, MEd is an ACE-Certified personal trainer, the owner of Fit Armadillo®, and author of Superwomen Secrets Revealed: Successful Women Talk About Fitting in Fitness and Dare You to Join Them. She has zero tolerance for diets, supplements, and detoxes (and not just because none of them are perfect), but lots of love for those new to fitness. An avid runner, she has competed in races from the 1500m to the full marathon, and loves helping others start a running routine.