Have you ever had a dream?
And yes, we can go full Tangled here if you’d like.
Seriously, though. Are you sitting on some idea and you’re just afraid to start?
Or you’re not afraid but you are… planning?
Well, you get the idea.
Something you’re dying to try, but you can’t because… [insert your current excuse here.]
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Any time I’m struggling with doing something, I do these things.
I give myself permission to suck.
I know first drafts are always crappy. Anne Lamott called them SFDs. And I’ve embraced this mentality.
Sometimes you’ve just got to get it out of your head and onto paper so that you can tweak it and refine it and make it better than it is while it resides in your head.
I give myself permission to not be perfect.
While this may seem like the same thing, it’s not. I promise. Because perfection is this horrible illusion that something can be done perfectly when, in all reality, it can’t.
Did you catch that? Nothing can be done perfectly.
Because we’re imperfect people in an imperfect world and while sometimes things feel perfect, they aren’t. There’s always room for improvement.
And that can be really discouraging…
OR – hear me out on this – it could be really encouraging.
How great is it that no matter how hard you try, you can always do better.
Doesn’t that make you want to keep trying so you can keep getting better?
And doesn’t that take the pressure off because you know perfection is impossible?
It does me. Because I’m a little stranger than most when it comes to this kind of thing, and I’ve embraced the weirdness that is my brain.
I used to be a perfectionist. I never claim it anymore. Now I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, and I’ve fallen in love with the title.
It feels like growth. It feels like progress. It feels perfectly imperfect.
And while I’m not striving for perfection in anything I do, I am striving for excellence. It’s obtainable and realistic. You should try it.
I remind myself that the only way to get better is by doing the thing.
I’d like to refer you to the brilliant Ira Glass, who so wisely said:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”-Ira Glass
He’s a genius. And I read this quote regularly to remind myself that it’s ok that I’m still learning.
The best teachers are students, after all.
I find goofy stuff that inspires me while I laugh.
Here’s my personal favorite:
I send this to my friends and family when they’re struggling to get stuff done. And they send it back to me.
Who knew Shia LaBeouf could be so inspirational?
I sit down and do the thing.
Whatever it is, I set a 25 minute timer (big fan of the Pomodoro method over here) and just do whatever it is I need to do.
Sometimes I make a game of it.
Sometimes I turn on focus music and get it done.
Whatever it takes, I can do anything for 25 minutes.
So what are you waiting for?
You’ve got permission to suck, to not achieve perfection, and to just try whatever it is you’re sitting on.
Take one small baby step towards your dream in the next 24 hours.
Then email me and tell me all about it.