7 Actionable Ways to Overcome Perfectionism - Biz Buds Podcast - Tom Ross & Mike Janda7 Actionable Ways to Overcome Perfectionism - Biz Buds Podcast - Tom Ross & Mike Janda

How To Overcome Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be described as an unrelenting desire for things to be perfectly in order without any errors or mistakes. More often, creatives exhibit this tendency and struggle with a ‘pixel-perfect’ mindset. And chances are, it’s slowing you down. 

Mike believes that the need for perfectionism can be traced back to school when you’re asked to put your work up on the board and have twenty people critique it. The fear of receiving negative feedback often breeds insecurity and perpetuates the need to be perfect at everything. But at some point, it’s important to let go, accept the quality of your work, and move on. Tom and Mike talk about their struggle with perfectionism and offer some tips to overcome it. 

If you are in a rush, here are the key takeaways from this article:

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Tom’s and Mike’s Struggle with Perfectionism

Three years ago, when Tom first began one of his podcasts, it took him three or four months to release the first episode. After recording the episode, he went back and forth about it, with countless edits and tweaks to the point where he had to pay out of his personal pocket for re-filming the same episode. But, because he felt like it was never quite right, it didn’t see the light of day. 

With years of entrepreneurial experience, he realises that the need for perfectionism only slows him down and that dropping it almost feels like a superpower. Now when he fumbles with his words or says something incorrectly while recording, he chooses to keep rolling as it feels more authentic. This also allows him to speed up his process and create a prolific amount of content.

For Tom, letting go of perfectionism felt like a superpower.

When Mike first started making videos on Youtube, he used to experiment with the kind of content he could make on the platform. In the beginning, he struggled with terrible productivity: he would film for two or three hours, edit for another four hours only to get a six-minute video at the end because he spent most of his time doing retakes. 

As he made more and more videos, he became comfortable with being his authentic self in front of the camera and was able to edit faster, and more efficiently. He let go of his need to be perfect and learnt to accept his quality of work. 

7 Actionable Tips to Overcome Perfectionism

Take one step at a time

Picture this: you have a target that is 100 steps away from where you’re standing right now. The only way you can possibly get there is by taking one step at a time. After a hundred steps, you will undoubtedly reach your target. 

As a perfectionist, you will attempt to jump towards the target, causing you to fail. You might even think of several possible solutions: what if you adjusted your jump, plotted it better or wore different shoes? But ultimately you will fail to reach the target because it is impossible to jump that far and no amount of thinking and planning can change that. 

Using this analogy, Tom reinforces the importance of taking one step at a time.

Don’t try and leap a hundred steps, it’ll only lead to failure.

Marketing, running a business, or even life is about taking one step at a time – progressing, adapting, pivoting.

Set solid deadlines & stick to them

Parkinson’s Law suggests that if you have an hour to complete a task, you will complete it within the hour. Similarly, if you have three hours to complete the same task, you will do it in three hours. For those with perfectionist tendencies, understanding this principle and setting solid deadlines becomes all the more important. 

Give yourself a set amount of time to complete a task and stick to it – be it one hour or ten hours. If you don’t have a deadline you will spend more time than necessary working on it. This will not only feed your perfectionism, it will also lead to counter-productivity and inhibit you from executing the task efficiently.

For example: If you are an interior designer or decorator and don’t have a deadline, you can spend all your time literally moving a plant from one side of the table to the other in order to find the right spot. 

Apply the 30/60/90 Feedback Framework to your tasks

The 30/60/90 Feedback framework states that one should receive feedback when a task is 30% complete, again at 60% completion and finally at 90% completion. Simply put – instead of showing a client your product when it is at 90%, show it to them when it’s at 30% and 60% too, taking feedback along the way. This will allow you to overcome the need to constantly perfect your product, and help you and your client work together in a collaborative manner.

Sometimes, it might not be the client giving you feedback, but the market and the wider community that you’re trying to serve. Either way, it is useful to complete your task and not waste time trying to perfect it. 

Avoid comparing yourself to others

As a professional, you may often find yourself asking these questions: What if no one appreciates my work? What if I try and put my best self out there and nobody follows me? What if I’m a failure or an imposter? These questions often tie into the idea of perfectionism and inhibits you from giving your best effort because you are afraid that it isn’t going to yield the result you desire. And a lot of those questions probably stem from comparing yourself to others. 

In Tom’s words, don’t compare your current position to someone’s step fifty.

If you’re on step one, look to someone else on step one and step two. Stop comparing yourself to someone who is a lot further along than you are. Additionally, avoid looking at other people’s highlight reel. Even if it may seem perfect, it probably isn’t.

Step out of your comfort zone

Not suggesting to throw caution to the wind, but schedule uncomfortable moments of pushing through your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to put out something imperfect. Make it a regular task. You are guaranteed to be amazed at the long-term benefits it has for your mental health, confidence and speed of execution. So go ahead and put out something imperfect, do it again and again. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because no one really cares.

For example: To demonstrate the same, Tom challenged his listeners to put out something imperfect. He urged them to create an Instagram post in 30 minutes complete with a description and hashtags. While one of his listeners claimed that the exercise was painful, he also felt like it had helped him grow. It allowed him to level up and shed a little bit of the need for perfectionism that was crippling him before. 

Tom’s one-take Instagram story: To further prove his point, Tom recorded an Instagram story whilst recording the podcast episode that inspired this article. Even though he was messing up his words, the lighting wasn’t ideal, and there was no text to make it more consumable, he shared it with his Instagram followers because it was an example of putting up imperfect content. Because he was podcasting at the same time, it didn’t matter to his viewers the kind of video he put up. 

Over the years, Tom has realised how work slows down when you’re constantly striving for perfection. He understands that the process of making changes and the back and forth that comes with it, is sometimes not worth the change at all. Now, if there’s a typo in his content or problems with his visual presentation, he goes ahead and posts the piece of content anyway.

The trick is to just put your first post out, no matter what it looks like. And then try to better your content bit by bit. Are you up for a challenge? Post an imperfect piece of content on social today, are you in?

Mike’s better, not perfect approach: Mike started to push his content on Instagram a little more than a year ago. If you go back to his previous posts, you will see him experimenting a lot with his content because he wasn’t aware of the nuances of the platform. He didn’t know what was ‘perfect’. Over time, he was able to make them better, albeit not perfect. He believes that this sends a positive message to his audience. While he tries to make every post interesting and visually-engaging, they might not be perfect. And that’s okay.

Sometimes, it might not be the client giving you feedback, but the market and the wider community that you’re trying to serve. Either way, it is useful to complete your task and not waste time trying to perfect it. 

There is value in authenticity

Content such as the story Tom created, displays authenticity. And while it is easy to get caught up in visual perfection, the right hashtags and the right message, there is value in being authentic and true to yourself.

Mike & his messy reality: For a walkthrough video of his studio space, Mike arranged his space so that all his wires were hidden, everything was organised and in its right place and there was perfect lighting. A week later, there was a mess around him. He decided to create an Instagram story about this because it shows the reality of his workspace. He believes that it sends out a message that his workplace, like most people, can get messy too. 

Gary Vaynerchuk is the perfect example of imperfect content on social media. His content, visuals and videos are rough, and not perfect by any means. Yet, he gets posts regularly and gets great engagement.

Don’t obsess over little details

Much of your stress and anxiety probably stems from a need to perfect. Outside of the obvious will benefits your business and not-obsessing over little details is a tremendous asset for your mental health. Your life probably has enough stress in it already without you obsessing over pixels, visual perfection, placement or quality of work.

Tom lets go of perfection anxiety: Earlier, while recording a story or podcast, Tom would go over the footage several times, tweaking it and re-tweaking it, to make sure that it looks good. This led to him feeling anxious. However, once he started putting out imperfect one-take content, he felt no anxiety and in fact, felt more confident about his skills. If you obsess over little details you will make yourself a miserable ball of stress. 

The trick is to just put your first post out, no matter what it looks like. And then try to better your content bit by bit. It is the only way to understand the nuances of the platform you’re working on. Unless you do this, you can’t project what people are going to resonate with and what they’re not. 

For example: One of Tom’s friends has been trying to create a personal brand for a year now. He made mood boards, mind maps, potential content, and detailed planning in all stages. While he is incredibly talented, this kind of overthinking totally slowed him down. He was so busy planning, when he could have been creating, and building a real audience along the way. 

In conclusion, it’s important to let go of this illusion of perfectionism as it will only slow you down. Focus on the bigger picture and don’t be afraid to reveal your authentic self, no matter how imperfect you think it might be.

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