Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business?

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business_

Perfectionism is a dirty word in the personal development world, and with good reason.

Perfectionism, or the notion that we must be perfect and do things perfectly or it’s not worth doing at all, is poisonous.

It stops us from starting projects, finishing projects, trying new things, or putting our stuff out into the world because we think it’s not good enough.

Most of us know about the dangers of perfectionism and we’ve learned to recognize it in ourselves. But…have we conquered it? Or does it still sneak in where we least expect it?

When I was a creativity coach, I worked with this a lot. From my own observations and anecdotal evidence, perfectionism is the #1 killer of creativity and new ideas.

A lot of us are trying to rise above this impulse and remind ourselves that it’s okay to do things imperfectly.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best and strive for excellence, of course, but most of us don’t have a problem with that. We tend to swing to the other end of the spectrum. Perfectionism is a problem when it prevents us from trying and doing.

It’s okay to be a beginner. It’s okay to suck, because that’s how you learn.

This mindset is Level 1 of perfectionism rehab.


How I realized I was still stuck in perfectionism, and why you probably are too.


For years, I thought I’d recovered from perfectionism, and I was even helping others do the same.

I learned to talk back to the voices that told me my work wasn’t good enough or that everything I made had to be perfect, which was super helpful for my art and writing.

I started putting things out into the world. I experimented with my art style. I started a new business. I published a novel.

I thought I was fully recovered until I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Unf*ck Your Brain.

If you haven’t listened to Kara and her amazingness, you should. Go subscribe right now. I’ll wait.

Anywho, she did an episode on perfectionism and dropped this bomb: “Part of perfectionism is making a perfect plan and then beating ourselves up when we can’t follow it.”

(I’m paraphrasing a little, but that was the gist of it.)

Talk about a wakeup call.

I thought I was cool with perfectionism, but then I realized there’s another layer.

Perfectionism isn’t just refusing to try or release something if it can’t be perfect. It’s also wishing you could be perfect and feeling bad when you’re not.

I’m the queen of making perfect plans and then feeling horrible when I can’t do them.

Those outlandish goals don’t seem outlandish at the time because I should be able to do 30 things per day, right?

Sound familiar? Let’s see if you’re still stuck in perfectionism.


Signs You’re Still Stuck in Perfectionism


  • You still wish you could be perfect.
  • You compare yourself to others who look like they’ve got it together.
  • You make ambitious plans you can’t stick to because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • You set huge goals and feel horrible when you don’t quite reach them.
  • You beat yourself up for every little mistake.
  • It takes you hours to write anything because you can’t stop self-editing as you write. (I see this in my clients a LOT.)
  • It takes you forever to create and launch anything because you’re stuck in endless revisions
  • You feel exhausted, run down, and like you’re always failing

Are you nodding your head “yes?” Then you’ve got another layer of perfectionism to work though.


How to get out of the perfectionism trap


I’ll be totally honest: I’m still figuring this out myself. But here’s what’s helped me so far.


Plan for wiggle room.

Your plans won’t go perfectly. They just won’t. Expect that things will come up, that some things will take longer than you originally planned, that you’ll get ideas along the way, and don’t feel bad when progress doesn’t look perfectly linear.

By all means, set due dates for tasks, get an accountability partner, and do whatever it takes to stay on track, but don’t harangue yourself for little slips here and there. Just readjust and move on.


Think “possibilities” rather than to-dos.

I tend to overload my to-do list with WAY more tasks than any human can accomplish in a day. Instead, I’ve been trying to see those items as POSSIBILITIES rather than things that HAVE to get done.

Of course, there are some items that need to get done that day, so I’ll prioritize those.

But the other things? Those would be nice, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t clean the bathrooms today or do that extra abs workout, or if I only draft 2 articles instead of 4.

Give yourself a break.


Play with your goal setting practices.

Maybe have a minimum goal and a “Wow, that would be so freaking awesome if I did that!” goal. Set a goal that’s a stretch, but not too far out of your comfort zone. Look at how far you went and how much you grew, even if you didn’t meet your goal.

I didn’t quite meet my January income goal. I’d made a plan to reach that goal. As I acted on it, though, I realized that my plan required me to work way more hours than I had the capacity for.

I realized I had to make some adjustments to my business that wouldn’t pay off in time for me to make my goal, but that’s okay because I learned something.

I felt bad at first, but it still ended up being a good month. So I felt good about it, celebrated it, and moved onto the next thing.


Don’t self-edit while you’re creating

This one just KILLS me.

Many of my blogging clients struggle with perfectionism in their writing, which is why they hire me to help with their content. Before working with me, a lot of them were spending hours on a single blog post, even the draft. (Drafts are supposed to be imperfect, btw).

Drafting goes very quickly for me because I’m not concerned about it being perfect or even good while I’m just getting my thoughts down. I’ve overcome the lower barriers of perfectionism.

I drafted this article in about twenty minutes. Did it suck? Yes. Did I edit it and make it better? Also yes.

Whether you’re writing blog posts, creating video content, or just brainstorming, don’t judge or edit your ideas as they come out. You can always fix and edit later.

Perfectionism is sneaky, and it can mess up your business and your sanity.

Give yourself a break. Notice where you’re still getting stuck, and practice a mindset of flexibility.

It might save your business!


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How to Make Any Goal Your Reality

How to make any goal your reality - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’ve set a lot of crazy goals in my life. Some of them never amounted to anything; I might have lost interest, found something better, or just didn’t have a plan and gave up.

Other goals though, I’ve knocked out of the park.

I’ve had a lot of practice setting and reaching goals. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and what works for me seems to work for a lot of people!

Goals are the magic bridge that connects our dreams to our reality.

I’m going to share the goal setting method I used to start and grow my business, write my novel, reach financial goals, and basically accomplish anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned that the method of setting goals is almost as important as the actions themselves, and having a plan can definitely speed things up.


How to Make Any Goal Reality


Step #1: Dream

What do you want your life to look like?

This is the part that drives the rest of the process, like fueling up your car before starting a road trip. Skip this step, and you won’t get very far.

So what do you want your life to look like? What would be amazing? How do you want to spend your time? What issues would you like to be solved? How do you want to feel?

Remember this amazing feeling, because this is your “why”, the whole reason for this process.

Spend some time with this daydream. Really sink into it and feel what it would feel like to have that life. If you’re into vision boarding, but out those scissors, baby. If you want to anchor this with affirmations, go for it. Whatever it takes to make that dream feel real to you, do it!


Step #2: Clarify

Define your dream with a goal

In your dream life vision, what have you accomplished? Do you have a successful business? Do you own your dream home? Have you quit your day job to work for yourself? Written your book? Write down anything that comes to mind.

Ask yourself what would need to happen in order for that dream to be true, and use that to form your goal.


Step #3: Refine

Get clarity

Your goal needs a few things to be really clear: You need to be able to measure it, you need a timeframe, and it has to be within the realm of possibility.

For example, “Have a successful business” is not a clear goal. “Increase my business revenue by 50k this year” is much clearer because you’ll know when you’ve achieved it, you have a timeframe, and it’s at least somewhat realistic.

(I’m all for dreaming big and shooting for the moon to land among the stars, but I’m a big fan of realistic goals too. More on this here.)

Figure out these details and craft a goal that is as specific as possible. For example: “I will pay off my students loans by Christmas,” or “I will double my email list in the next 100 days.”


Step #4: Map it out

Break that goal into small actions then schedule those actions.

Now that you’ve got an exciting, clear goal to shoot for, you’re probably feeling really overwhelmed. The best goals are the ones that feel possible, but scare us a little.

So where do you start?

You break things down into teeny tiny non-scary steps. You can probably think of lots of different things you’d need to do in order to reach your goal, so grab a piece of paper and write those down.

Those are probably big steps too, so write down the steps you’d have to take for those steps to be possible. If you get stuck, try reverse engineering those steps. What would have to happen right before reaching that milestone? What would have to happen before that? Keep going until the path unfolds at your feet and you run into steps you can take right now.

Then do those things in order. If they don’t all fall into an obvious order, do the most important things first.

Big tip: You might have absolutely no idea what to do and where to start, and that’s okay. Just deciding and setting the goal is the biggest step.

Get the “what” and “why” sorted out, and the “how” will follow.

Figuring out steps can be a step on its own. If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do next, take some time to do research, talk to an expert, etc. Anything you need to figure out steps. Just don’t get stuck in the research process. I suggest doing enough research to get a nice overview of the whole process, then enough research to find your next steps. This doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Learn enough to move forward, but don’t let it become procrastination!

This is the process I’ve used for just about every goal I’ve successfully accomplished, and I believe in it 100%. Give it a shot, and you might be astounded by what you create.


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